The Historical Origins of Kissing and Its Potential Role in Disease Transmission for the Past 4,500 Years

By: | May 27th, 2023

Credit: The Trustees of the British Museum

The Earliest Recorded Kiss in Mesopotamia 4,500 Years Ago: Investigating the Origins of Kissing and its Relationship with Disease Transmission.

Researchers from the University of Copenhagen and the University of Oxford conducted a study on the origins of kissing and made an interesting discovery.

Their research revealed that kissing was already being practiced in the ancient Middle East about 4,500 years ago.

This is approximately 1,000 years earlier than previously believed. Before this study, it was commonly thought that the practice of kissing originated around 3,500 years ago in South Asia, as a Bronze Age manuscript from India had previously suggested.

This new finding challenges previous theories and sheds light on the historical timeline of kissing

Danish professors Troels Pank Arbøll and Sophie Lund Rasmussen found kissing was an ordinary part of everyday life in ancient Mesopotamia. They found evidence of kissing in clay tablets with writings from Ancient Mesopotamia – now modern-day Iraq and Syria.

Potential involvement of kissing in the transmission of diseases such as herpes simplex virus 1.

The scientists acknowledged that kissing could unintentionally contribute to disease transmission. It is possible that infectious diseases like diphtheria and herpes simplex (HSV-1) could have been transmitted through this act.

Medical texts from Mesopotamia mention a disease called bu’šānu, which exhibited symptoms similar to herpes, with sores appearing around the mouth and throat.

However, they stressed the necessity for additional research to understand the specific role that kissing played in disease transmission in past societies.

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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