Of crocodile dung and gum as contraceptive, incest and masturbating into the Nile; a look at the sexual life of ancient Egypt

November 15, 2019 at 02:00 pm | Culture

Michael Eli Dokosi

Michael Eli Dokosi | Staff Writer

November 15, 2019 at 02:00 pm | Culture

Egypt dates back to the ancient times when the Pharaohs used to reign over the country

Although ancient Egyptian way of life is known, a few things still perplex scholars and historians.

The empire’s military, agricultural, religious, political, social, economic and funerary advancement and life have been extensively covered but its sexual life hasn’t received much exposure.

However, given that Ramesses II, also known as Ramesses the Great, the third pharaoh of the Nineteenth Dynasty of Egypt aside being regarded as the greatest, most celebrated, and most powerful pharaoh of the New Kingdom sired over 100 children shows that sexual life very much had its place.

Some historians contend that the Turin Erotic Papyrus in the Egyptian Museum in Italy – the largest to house Egyptian artifacts outside of Egypt – shows various sexual positions or pornography depicting life in that regard.

Turin Erotic Papyrus via anthropology.msu.edu

It is said to have been found in the Valley of the Kings in the 19th century. It depicts 12 ordinary men and women in various positions. Owing to its graphic nature, museums locked it away and was only accessed when requested. On the Turin Erotic Papyrus one can see a woman seated on a vase to pleasure herself. Although discovered in the 1820s, it was only revealed to the general public in the 1970s.

The Turin papyrus also contains vignettes of animals doing impossible things, some examples being a donkey playing the harp, a cat holding a crook and flail like a king and animals playing games with each other.

On the sexual bit in the papyrus, the men are disheveled and balding, with very exaggerated members. The women are young and pretty by ancient Egyptian standards. The positions themselves are sometimes of such impossibility as to raise the most seasoned eyebrow leading some historians to note that it must be taken just on its satirical value. It didn’t help that the papyrus is damaged and only fragments survive intact.

There’s also the theory that an etching found in a limestone cave west bank of Thebes of a doggy style involving a queen and a male might be of the queen, Hatshepsut and her secret lover Senenmut. It’s thought that it might have been done to slander the queen who ascended to the throne although it wasn’t the norm.

Hatshepsut and Senenmut via anthropology.msu.edu

Also the concept of virginity is thought not to have been particularly a big deal as individuals could freely pursue sexual relationships so long as both parties were unattached.

And on masturbation: “One creation myth details how the first god (Atum or Ra), who created himself, fathered the next generation of deities through masturbation. There was supposedly an event in which the Pharaoh would ceremoniously ejaculate into the Nile to mimic Atum/Ra’s creation of Shu and Tefnut; that is, it was to encourage the fertility of the Nile.”

Cleopatra of the latter stock of foreign Egyptian rulers is believed to have created a vibrator for herself using bees.

On contraception, the Kahun Gynecological Papyrus showed one form of contraception the ancient Egyptians used included the use of acacia gum, about which it has since been learned that when compounded it essentially becomes spermicide while various other substances were used inside of the vagina, including pessary made of crocodile dung.

On incest, deities wed their siblings in Egyptian mythology: She and Tefnut; Geb and Nut; Osiris and Isis; Seth and Nephthys. Egyptian royalty copied this pattern; King Tutunkhamen’s parents, for example, were siblings. This culminated a family line of inbreeding that caused the family to suffer from many malformations, infections and genetic diseases. However, there is little evidence indicating that the common masses frequently married their siblings. Premarital sex between two siblings was strange, but it was not considered taboo.

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