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バビロニアの粘土モデル。ソファの上でセックスとキスをしている裸のカップルを示しています。 日付: 紀元前 1800 年クレジット: © The Trustees of the British Museum

研究者のトロエルズ・アーボル氏とソフィー・ラスムッセン氏は、HSV-1などの経口感染症の蔓延に対するロマンチックな性的キスの歴史的影響を調査した。 キスが病気の伝染を急速に加速させるという考えに反して、彼らは、この習慣は紀元前2500年のメソポタミアにまで遡り、病気の蔓延に長期的な影響を及ぼしてきたと主張している。 彼らはまた、古代および先史時代には、そのような病気がこれまで考えられていたよりも蔓延していた可能性があることを示唆しています。

Troels Arbøll と Sophie Rasmussen は、キスの古代の歴史、特に 4000 年以上前のメソポタミアにおけるロマンチックで性的なキスの出現と、単純ヘルペスのような経口感染症の進化と蔓延におけるキスの役割を展望的に考察します。[{” attribute=””>virus 1 (HSV-1). They say the kiss cannot be regarded as a sudden biological trigger causing a spread of specific pathogens, as some research has recently proposed.

“Evidence indicates that kissing was a common practice in ancient times, potentially representing a constant influence on the spread of orally transmitted microbes, such as HSV-1,” write Arbøll and Rasmussen. Humans generally exhibit two main types of kissing – the friendly-parental kiss and the romantic-sexual kiss.

Although research has suggested that friendly-parental kissing is a ubiquitous behavior among humans across time and geography, romantic-sexual kissing is not culturally universal and tends to occur in stratified societies; Arbøll and Rasmussen highlight a body of overlooked evidence of romantic-sexual kissing occurring in ancient Mesopotamian texts from 2500 BCE.

Beyond its importance for social and sexual behavior, the emergence and act of this form of kissing may have had a secondary, unintended effect on disease transmission. Recent paleogenomics research has shown that common kiss-transmissible pathogens of today, including HSV-1, Epstein-Barr virus, and human parvovirus B19, were present in ancient historical and even prehistorical periods.

Arbøll and Rasmussen review ancient DNA, cultural works of art, and ancient medical records to show that the presence of kissing-transmitted diseases may be more ancient and widespread than some recent studies have suggested.

“It … seems unlikely that kissing would have arisen as an immediate behavioral adaptation in other contemporary societies, which inadvertently accelerated disease transmission,” they say.

This Perspective follows up on the conclusions of a July 2022 study published in Science Advances, which linked a shift in lineages of HSV-1 in ancient humans to the emergence of sexual-kissing behavior during the Bronze Age.


“The ancient history of kissing” 18 May 2023, Science.
DOI: 10.1126/science.adf0512

“Ancient herpes simplex 1 genomes reveal recent viral structure in Eurasia” by Meriam Guellil, Lucy van Dorp, Sarah A. Inskip, Jenna M. Dittmar, Lehti Saag, Kristiina Tambets, Ruoyun Hui, Alice Rose, Eugenia D’Atanasio, Aivar Kriiska, Liivi Varul, A. M. H. C. Koekkelkoren, Rimma D. Goldina, Craig Cessford, Anu Solnik, Mait Metspalu, Johannes Krause, Alexander Herbig, John E. Robb, Charlotte J. Houldcroft, Christiana L. Scheib, 27 July 2022, Science Advances.
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abo4435

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