Origins of Obscenity


In ancient times, sexual explicitness in drama, poetry, art, and sculpture was not regulated by the state. In 3000 B.C., the Sumerians in the Tigris-Euphrates Valley of Mesopotamia accepted sex as a natural part of life. Terra cottas from this well-integrated civilization graphically depict vaginal intercourse, anal intercourse, prostitution, and same-sex sex. Sumerian literature candidly portrayed human love as intimately connected to both sexual pleasure and procreation. The Sumerians had no word for nudity, although they had a breathtaking number of terms for the sexual organs. Unlike the Romans and Greeks, who glorified the phallus, the Sumerians paid more attention to the female genitalia. In Sumerian poetry, the vulva is often equated with sweet foods, and later Babylonian love poetry was often highly erotic.

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