The Ancient Egyptian “Turin Erotic Papyrus”

papyrus300 The Ancient Egyptian Turin Erotic PapyrusIt seems that about five minutes after paper was invented, someone invented porn. The Turin Erotic Papyrus, sometimes called Papyrus 55001, is a collection of 12 erotic “stories” discovered on ancient Egyptian scrolls.

In each of the 12 pictures, couples enjoy different sexual positions – some highly unlikely, or, at the very least, extremely uncomfortable. Since the scrolls’ discovery, people have been speculating whether the 12 drawings are a message to the gods, a fertility ritual, or  evidence of the earliest erotica. Maybe a combination of all three.

In his report “Eros in Egypt,” scholar David O’Connor describes the scrolls: “In each vignette a grotesquely aroused, unkempt man has sexual relations with an attractive young woman. The woman, while virtually naked, is decidedly more elegant than her partner. The sexual positions are varied and extremely vivid.”

That sounds eerily like the DVD I watched last night. It seems porn hasn’t changed much in 3,200-or-so years.

The scrolls depict Egyptians drinking alcohol, gathered around tables partying, and having sex. More evidence not much has changed.

The most surprising thing about the scrolls is that it seems to contradict the Egyptians’ other, more chaste drawings, particularly  hieroglyphs carved into cave walls. For instance, a man and woman may sit side-by-side at a table, symbolizing their marriage and union, but they rarely touch.

The Egyptians also leaned toward euphemistic symbols. A bow and arrow, used to depict “shooting,” may mean “ejaculation.” Some drawings would feature a burly man shooting his “arrow” directly at a female figure.

Aside from the erotic papyrus, the really juicy drawings were found on the cave walls where Egyptian kings were buried. While ancient Egyptians were extremely discrete about sex between mortal men and women, for the gods, life was one big orgy. Many photos of the well-endowed god of fertility, Min, grace cave walls. One would never see a human male unclothed in most Egyptian drawings.

Even between gods, however, sex between a male and female in human form was taboo. Instead, gods cavorted in animal form. The most famous example is a love scene between Osiris and Isis, in which Osiris lies aroused, face up, while Isis flies over him in the form of a bird. Apparently, for the ancient Egyptians, bestiality was okay.

But, moving back to the scrolls – one of the most interesting panels depicts an orgy, with at least three couples engaged in different sexual activities. In the center of the panel, a naked woman sits perched on a cone-like seat, as her partner’s hand gropes her. Is this evidence of the first ancient sex toy?

Perhaps the real question is, “Who cares?” We all know sex has been around as long as there were beings around to reproduce, but it’s fascinating to think about ancient civilizations enjoying the same pleasures we do — complete with friends, spirits and even sex toys!

One Response to “The Ancient Egyptian “Turin Erotic Papyrus””

  1. Mallory

    This is really cool. Never thought that in Egypt people were as kinky as they are now back then. Goes to show most things never change.

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