The Turin Erotic Papyrus

Nov 5, 2020 0 comments

The Turin Erotic Papyrus is an ancient Egyptian papyrus scroll-painting that has long been a subject of intense interest among Egyptologists, because it deals with the subject of sex rather graphically. The Turin Erotic Papyrus is believed to be created during the time of Ramesses III (roughly 1184-1153 BCE), which makes it about a thousand years older than the Kamasutra, the only other great treatise on sex from the ancient world.

Turin Erotic Papyrus

The original papyrus is in tatters.

The papyrus scroll depicts a sequence of twelve couples in various sexual positions. The men in the illustrations are “scruffy, balding, short, and paunchy” with exaggeratedly large genitalia, while the women are nubile. The papyrus also contain images of objects from traditional erotic iconography, such as convolvulus leaves and, in some scenes, they are holding items traditionally associated with Hathor, the goddess of love, such as lotus flowers, monkeys, and sistra, a musical instrument devoted to Hathor.

Some of the imagery are accompanied by comments that seem to express enjoyment and delight. For instance, in one scene the girl is bent over and the man takes her from behind. In the margin above the image, is scribbled: “come behind me with your love, Oh! Sun, you have found out my heart, it is agreeable work.”

Turin Erotic PapyrusRecreated scenes from the Turin Erotic Papyrus.

When the papyrus was first discovered in the 1820s, it caused such a scandal that the Musuem of Turin hid it for 150 years.

The 8.5 feet long papyrus begins with a satirical section, depicting animals performing human activities, such as playing musical instruments, climbing trees to pick fruit, quarrelling and driving chariots. The second section is erotic. The meaning of this section has been widely debated, but the most common consensus is that it was solely for amusement and titillation. In other words, it was one of the first examples of pornography.

The papyrus is currently housed in the Museo Egizio in Turin, Italy. It is in a very poor fragmented state.

Turin Erotic Papyrus

Recreated scenes from the Turin Erotic Papyrus.

References:
# MarĂ­a Isabel Carrasco Cara Chards, How The Oldest Depiction Of Sex Changed The Way We See The Ancient Egyptians, Cultura Collectiva
# A A Shokeir & M I Hussein, Sexual life in Pharaonic Egypt: towards a urological view, Nature

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