From Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository. Subcategories This category has the following 4 subcategories, out of 4 total. Media in category "Erotic art of India" The following 38 files are in this category, out of 38 total. A man ejaculating, while holding a net for birds. Gouache Wellcome L
Sacred prostitution , temple prostitution , cult prostitution ,  and religious prostitution are general terms for a sexual rite consisting of sexual intercourse or other sexual activity performed in the context of religious worship , perhaps as a form of fertility rite or divine marriage hieros gamos. Some scholars prefer the terms " sacred sex " or " sacred sexual rites " to "sacred prostitution" in cases where payment for services was not involved. The historicity of literal sacred prostitution, particularly in some places and periods, is a controversial topic within the academic world. Ancient Near Eastern societies along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers featured many shrines and temples or houses of heaven dedicated to various deities. The 5th-century BC historian Herodotus's account and some other testimony from the Hellenistic Period and Late Antiquity suggest that ancient societies encouraged the practice of sacred sexual rites not only in Babylonia and Cyprus , but throughout the Near East. The work of gender researchers like Daniel Arnaud,  Julia Assante  and Stephanie Budin  has cast the whole tradition of scholarship that defined the concept of sacred prostitution into doubt. Budin regards the concept of sacred prostitution as a myth, arguing taxatively that the practices described in the sources were misunderstandings of either non-remunerated ritual sex or non-sexual religious ceremonies, possibly even mere cultural slander.
Since the beginning of civilization, humans have incorporated sexuality into erotic art, worship, and daily life. There have been cultures and times were explicit references to sexuality were more accepted by societal norms, and times when there have not. However, the repressive view of sexuality espoused by the Church in the Middle Ages, and then the repressed sexuality of the Victorian era have left many in the Western world believing that few if any in the past were willing and able to accept and even revel in their sexuality. Most of us look to the past and think of an era where sexuality was a taboo subject, until the groundbreaking social changes of the 60s and 70s. This view was supported by many of the authorities of the 20th century, who often edited explicitly sexual objects and events out of history books and museums.
Museums are often misconstrued as dusty and lifeless — the least likely place to find something hot and steamy. Such astonishingly intimate works reveal a side to the ancient Near East that contrasts sharply with the modesty prevalent in the modern Middle East. Two clay plaques, small enough to hold in your palm, depict couples copulating in remarkable detail. Dating from the early second millennium BCE, the Old Babylonian period, they come from a year window when mass-produced terra cotta plaques were popular, including those that exhibit sexual acts.