Kissing was a familiar gesture of human affection in the Middle East at least 4,500 years ago. That’s according to a research team from the Universities of Copenhagen and Oxford after studying inscriptions on clay tablets from Mesopotamia.
The study was published in the journal Science. The inscriptions “contain clear examples that kissing was a part of romantic intimacy in ancient times, just as it could be a part of friendships and relationships with family members,” study author Troels Pank Arboll of the University of Copenhagen was quoted as saying in a university news release.
Kissing didn’t originate in a single region and spread from there, he said: “Rather, it seems to have been practiced in several ancient cultures over several thousand years.” Arboll thus contradicts studies that suggest kissing originated 3,500 years ago in a specific location in South Asia, from where it spread to other regions.
Basic human behavior
The article says that older evidence of kissing can be found in a 4,500-year-old text from Mesopotamia, the Mesopotamian region between the Euphrates and Tigris rivers. They also point to a 3,800-year-old clay tablet from the area that shows a couple kissing.
“In fact, research on bonobos and chimpanzees, the closest living relatives of humans, has shown that both species practice kissing, which may suggest that kissing is a fundamental human behavior. This explains why it is found in all cultures,” co-author Sophie Lund Rasmussen of Oxford University says.