When Did People Start Kissing? The Science Stories You Missed In May

There are many fascinating science stories covering various topics, from the origins of butterflies to unidentified sounds recorded in the stratosphere. 

On today’s episode of The Science Briefing, Dr Sophie Calabretto chats with Cosmos Magazine journalist Ellen Phiddian and will recap three science stories from last month.

Click the link below and listen the full episode:

We learned when humans first explored space and the history of the first light bulb, but what about the record of the first romantic kiss?

Recent studies found that a Bronze Age manuscript from South Asia (India) recorded the earliest evidence of human romantic kissing in 1500 BCE.

“Across pretty much every culture in the world, there is parental kissing, like mums kissing babies, but romantic kissing specifically doesn’t appear in every single culture,” Phiddian said.

However, a team of scientists have pointed out several records of romantic kissing from Mesopotamia, including modern Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, Syria and Turkey. 

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These records were documented from at least 2500 BCE onwards, four and a half thousand years ago.

“There are thousands of these (clay) tablets  that have survived, and a bunch of them contain really Cleary’s samples of kissing, mostly happening between married couples,” she said.

There were two records that caught scientists’ attention. One of them depicted “how a married woman was almost led astray by a kiss from another man, while the other described an unmarried woman swearing to avoid kissing and having sexual relations with a specific man.

“So that (records) basically suggests that kissing was frowned upon when not done between married couples.”

Phiddian said scientists were not only just interested in ancient kissing but also wanted to explore the link between ancient kissing and disease transmission.

Introducing The Science Briefing: a podcast about the science of everything and your new go-to podcast for your snapshot of science news. Hosted by Dr Sophie Calabretto and featuring journalists from Cosmos Magazine. Hear it on the LiSTNR app now.