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News Alphabetical Index of Topics

Home HISTORY OF SEX
Activism & Sex
Arts & Sensuality TIME LINE MESOPOTAMIA
Commercial Sex Mesopotamia
Contraception Ancient Egypt Ancient Babylonia & Assyria
Disabilities/Illnesses Ancient India
Dysfunctions Ancient China Babylonia is the southern portion of Mesopotamia, the area between
Human Body Early Biblical the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, which is presently known today as
History of Sex Early Mediterranean Iraq or "coastland." Assyria in the northern portion of Mesopotamia.
Law & Sex Ancient Greece Mesopotamia is known to have the oldest records of human history,
Love & Intimacy Incan Empire and is said to be the first human civilization.
Paraphilias Aztec Empire
Pleasures of Sex Mayan Empire Ishtar
Pregnancy Native Americans
Relationships Roman Empire Ishtar was the Babylonian goddess of love, fertility, nature, sex, and
Religion & Sex Middle Ages war. In other peoples, she has been called the following:
Research Renaissance/Reformation Assyria -- Mylitta, Inanna
STDs Puritans Phoenicia -- Astarte
Societies Victorianism Arabia -- Athtar (male)
Variances Adolf Hitler Abyssinia (now Ethiopia) -- Astar (male)
Violence Kinsey - 1950s Canaan -- Ashtart
Sex Revolution-60s Carthage (in Africa) -- Tanit
Greece -- Aphrodite
Roman -- Venus

Ishtar was the primary deity of ancient Mesopotamia. She was the deity of all life, men, women, other deities, sexual power, pregnancy, birth, everything that was female, including war. Mesopotamia originated as a matriarchy and its goddess, Ishtar, ruled over everything including war and weapons. But as time changed, and men rose up, she lost some of her status as male gods began to surface who also bore weapons. Since she was the goddess of war, after victories, her temple of women would celebrate victory with a feast and sex. But when the matriarchy began to shift power to men, her temple became one of prostitutes.

Ishtar was said not to listen to men's pleas unless the man visited an Ishtar cult. A woman that dedicated herself to the goddess Ishtar was said to have a sacred duty. All women were required at least once in their lifetime to go to the Temple of Ishtar (usually after they were married). They were to sit in the temple until a stranger came and threw a piece of silver in her lap. Then she was to leave the temple and have sex with the stranger, after which she could return home. She was not allowed to refuse the first stranger. Unfortunately, some of the less attractive women remained in the temple for years, waiting for a stranger to throw them a silver coin.

Men and women prayed to Ishtar for virility, fertility, and sexual power. Those in Babylonia that put up the most fuss over the Ishtar cults were married women, and not surprisingly, married men were the most frequent visitors. There were laws passed making it a serious offense to speak badly of the holy prostitutes. It was common to find phalluses at every temple and shrine and there were shrines of phalluses erected as well. A great temple was built for the goddess, Ishtar, who had many symbols that represented her. The animal that represented her was the lion. The symbol was the star.

Peor


The Peor cult is also called the "celebration of the phallus." This particular cult was really a public orgy. It began with an exhibitionist show of people engaged in various sexual acts. The finale would involve those in the audience joining in. The cult of Peor had the ass as their animal symbol and bestiality was a part of the show.

Marduk


Marduk is the son of Damki(na) and Ea, and became the head of the gods. According to the cosmology in the Enuma Elish, it was through Ea's blood and Marduk's plan that humankind was created. During the reign of King Hammurabi, Marduk was declared the national god of Babylonia.

STDs


Some of the first references to sexually transmitted diseases are found in Ancient Babylonia, mainly gonnorhea and syphillis. These diseases were said to be caused by the gods and their mismatches which were shown in the sky by the crab and the scorpion. The chancre sore from syphillis was said to literally be a crab bite. In King Hammurabi's Codes, there is a sexual warning to those who oppose him, that "...an evil disease, a dangerous sore which cannot be cured, which the physicians cannot diagnose, which he cannot allay with bandages, and which like the bit of death cannot be removed; and that he, until he brings his life to an end, may lament the loss of his vigor...curse him, his seed, his land, his army, his people and his troops with an evil curse."

Thus, it is also very possible that since Ishtar was regarded as a goddess of love and war, that she was also believed to cast sexually transmitted diseases to the enemies of those that worshipped her. Such a statement from a powerful king may have effected how the enemies of Ancient Babylonia regarded the great state and its sexuality. In opposing Hammurabi, those peoples also had to oppose the goddess Ishtar and the Babylonian ideas of sexual openness.

Further Reading on Mesopotamia:

G. A. Barton. (1893) "The Semitic-Ishtar Cult." Hebraica. 9, 133.
R. F. Harper. (1904) The Code of Hammurabi. London: Watts.
A. Heidel. (1951) The Babylonian Genesis. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
E. W. Hirsch. (1941) Sex Life in Babylonia. Chicago: Research Publications.
M. Jastrow. (1915) The Civilization of Babylonia and Assyria. Philadelphia: London, J.B. Lippincott Company.
C. H. W. Johns. (1903) The Code of Hammurabi. Edingurgh: T. & T. Clark.
L. W. King. (1976) The Seven Tablets of Creation. New York: AMS Press.
M. G. Kovacs. (1989) The Epic of Gilgamesh. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
C. Olson. (1983) The Book of the Goddess, Past and Present: An Introduction to Her Religion. New York:Crossroad.
D. White. (1903) The Descent of Ishtar. London: Eragny Press, sold by the Eragny Press, London, and J. Lane, New York.

Mesopotamia Links

Akkadians: 2340-2125 B.C.
Ancient Babylonian Mathematics
Brewing Ancient Sumerian Beer
Making Beer in Ancient Babylonia
Medicine in Ancient Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
Sumerians and Beer
Sumerians: 2900-1800 B.C.


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Last updated 12.7.2014