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Petroglyphs in Hutubei, Xinjiang province, China. Courtesy of Jeannine Davis-Kimball
World's Oldest Pornography Is At Least 3,000 Years Old... And It's Bi-Curious

in CHINA, 18/03/2013

Prudes shouldn’t go into archeology. The patina of antiquity may make a carved ivory phallus, Venus figurine, or vulva painting on a cave wall priceless, communicating to us from a mute, distant past. But transplant those images to the modern world and you get dildos, Playboy, and Georgia O’Keefe. Still, most prehistoric erotic art is abstract, disembodied. It doesn’t explicitly depict sex-crazed ancients screwing their brains out for fun and fertility.

But one little-known, mysterious archaeological site does. The Kangjiashimenji Petroglyphs are bas-relief carvings in a massive red-basalt outcropping in the remote Xinjiang region of northwest China. The artwork includes the earliest—and some of the most graphic—depictions of copulation in the world.

Chinese archeologist Wang Binghua discovered the petroglyphs in the late 1980s, and Jeannine Davis-Kimball, an expert on Eurasian nomads, was the first Westerner to see them. Though she wrote about the carvings in scholarly journals, they remain obscure. Google retrieves only a few results, depending on the spelling. The petroglyphs deserve more attention.

The cast of 100 figures presents what is obviously a fertility ritual (or several). They range in size from more than nine feet tall to just a few inches. All perform the same ceremonial pose, holding their arms out and bent at the elbows. The right hand points up and the left hand points down, possibly to indicate earth and sky.

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