Sacred Prostitution - Ancient Near East

Ancient Near East

In the Ancient Near East along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers there were many shrines and temples or "houses of heaven" dedicated to various deities documented by the Ancient Greek historian Herodotus in The Histories where sacred prostitution was a common practice. According to Samuel Noah Kramer in The Sacred Marriage Rite, in late Sumerian history kings established their legitimacy by taking part in the ceremony in the temple for one night, on the tenth day of the New Year festival Akitu. It came to an end when the emperor Constantine in the 4th century destroyed the goddess temples and replaced them with Christianity. The practice is well disputed among scholars, partly due to doubts cast on the histories of Herodotus.

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