Kisses on the mouth and STIs are older than we thought

If the romantic-sexual kiss is not culturally universal, it is dominant in stratified societies.
Willie B. Thomas/Getty Images If the romantic-sexual kiss is not culturally universal, it is dominant in stratified societies.

Willie B. Thomas/Getty Images

If the romantic-sexual kiss is not culturally universal, it is dominant in stratified societies.

LOVE – The first kisses exchanged date back around 4,500 years in the ancient Middle East, a thousand years earlier than previously thought. This is the conclusion reached by scientists, as we learn in a study published Thursday, May 18 in the journal Science. The evidence they gathered suggests that kissing was practiced in some early Mesopotamian societies and documented in texts dating back to 2500 BC, which have so far been largely ignored.

Indeed, the earliest known record of human romantic and sexual kissing was thought to come from a Bronze Age manuscript from South Asia (India), tentatively dated to 1500 BCE. But the first kiss of Humanity would have taken place long before that, according to the historian specializing in the civilizations of the ancient Near East Troels Pank Arboll and the biologist Sophie Lund Rasmussen, who analyzed fifteen recent studies.

They also point out that the kiss may have contributed to the spread of orally transmitted diseases, such as cold sores.

We kissed on the mouth 4,000 years ago

In research, two types of kisses are generally distinguished: the friendly and parental kiss and the romantic and sexual kiss. While the friendly-kin kissing appears to be ubiquitous in humans across time and geography, the romantic-sexual kiss is not culturally universal, and is dominant in stratified societies.

This research suggests that “ the romantic-sexual kiss evolved for the purpose of assessing some aspect of a potential mate’s suitability through chemical cues transmitted through saliva or breath, to mediate feelings of attachment between individuals which form a couple, and to facilitate sexual arousal and, consequently, sexual relations “, reports the article of Science.

The previously overlooked body of evidence reviewed by scientists shows that kissing on the mouth was documented across much of the Mediterranean rim at least 2,500 BC. Texts from ancient Mesopotamia suggest that kisses were reserved for married couples, although they are also part of an unmarried person’s desires when in love. The inhabitants of Mesopotamia – in what is now Syria and Iraq – and Egypt were already kissing more than 4,000 years ago.

Studies have shown that bonobos kiss for romantic and sexual purposes, and chimpanzees kiss platonically to manage their social relationships. As the closest living beings to humans, scientists believe that these practices indicate the ancient presence and evolution of this behavior in humans.

Transfer of microorganisms

Beyond its importance for social and sexual behavior, the act of kissing may have played a secondary and unintended role throughout history in ” facilitating the transfer of potentially disease-causing orally transmitted microorganisms », Underlines the article.

Infectious diseases have existed since the dawn of recorded history, with a constant evolutionary arms race between pathogens and hosts. Recent advances in ancient DNA extraction technology have made it possible to detect a wide range of pathogen genomes, such as herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1), Epstein- Barr (10) and human parvovirus B19 (11), in ancient human remains,” she reports.

As reminded Releaseaccording to this Dutch study, when you kiss someone with your tongue for 10 seconds, you exchange 80 million bacteria of about 700 varieties.

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