Articles on Sexual histories

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The “Burney Relief,” which is believed to represent either Ishtar, the Mesopotamian goddess of love and war, or her older sister Ereshkigal, Queen of the underworld (c. 19th or 18th century BC) BabelStone

In ancient Mesopotamia, sex among the gods shook heaven and earth

Sex was central to life in ancient Mesopotamia. And the authors of Sumerian love poetry, depicting the exploits of divine couples, showed a wealth of practical knowledge about the stages of female sexual arousal.
A fragment of a wall painting showing two lovers in bed from the House of L Caecilius Jucundus in Pompeii, now at Naples National Archaeological Museum. Wikimedia Commons

Friday essay: the erotic art of Ancient Greece and Rome

From phallus-shaped wind chimes to explicit erotica on lamps and cups, sex is everywhere in ancient Greek and Roman art. But our interpretations of these images say much about our own culture.
Titian’s 1583 painting Venus of Urbino: historically, pleasure was not the only, or even the main, expectation from sex for women. Wikimedia Commons

From reproducers to ‘flutters’ to ‘sluts’: tracing attitudes to women’s pleasure in Australia

Australian women were once largely seen as reproducers, rather than lovers: sexual pleasure was suspect. Attitudes have changed, yet our culture is still troubled by female desire.

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