Ancient Sex: 8 Bizarre Sexual Practices From Ancient Civilizations

Isis in bird form copulating with the dead Osiris.

Views on sex in society are constantly in flux. In the Middle Ages, views on sex ranged from public orgies to strict religious doctrines that restricted everything. In ancient times, many societies had very loose views on sex. For some ancient societies, there was very little that was off-limits, and in others the rules were stricter, especially for women. The following are just a few of the sexual practices and beliefs of different societies in the ancient world.

The Warren Cup. A Roman cup from the first century CE featuring homosexual images. Wikipedia

Same Sex Relationships

There was very little taboo that was involved with a man having sex with another man in the ancient world, to an extent. For the ancient Romans and ancient Greeks there was nothing considered to be taboo with a man penetrating another man or even a young boy. This was because it was believed that the man was providing the boy with the knowledge he already possessed and strength and masculinity to help him grow strong.

However, there was a taboo to being in a sexual relationship with another man if you were the one being penetrated. Being the bottom in a male relationship was very bad because it was viewed as taking the feminine and passive. Surrendering control was something a noble man would never do and therefore being called a bottom was on one of the worst insults a man could receive. The exception was for young boys, it did not affect their standing or future chances for marriage if they were a bottom to an older man. There is little information on how relationships between two females was viewed or if was even something that was considered acceptable publicly.

Outside of the ancient Greeks and Romans, there were other cultures that also practiced same sex relationships without the taboo many of their modern counterparts place on it today. In the early Americas, the indigenous people had respected places in society for those who were homosexual, bisexuals, or were gender nonconforming. It was so common that Spanish conquistadors were horrified by the practice and made it punishable by death.

In ancient China and Japan there is also evidence that same sex affection was allowed. Homosexuality in China dates back to 600 BC, and in Japan it has been recorded for over 1,000 years. There are some links between the Buddhist monastic tradition and the samurai tradition and homosexuality. Thailand has also been very accepting of homosexuality throughout its history and has never had any legal prohibitions against same sex relationships.


  • Alma Mercer

    considering their was no birth control I could understand the reasoning .