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Xochiquetzal, with flower (Codex Fejérváry-Mayer, page 29)

Xochiquetzal: Aztec Goddess of Beauty, Pleasure and Love… But Don’t Mess With Her!

According to the Aztecs, Xochiquetzal was the goddess of beauty, pleasure, and love. She is commonly associated with such beautiful things as flowers, plants, song and dance, which is quite distinct...
"Delphic Oracle" Painting by Heinrich Leutemann. Image source: art-prints-on-demand.com

Spells, Charms, Erotic Dolls: Love Magic in the Ancient Mediterranean

It was a well-kept secret among historians during the late 19th and early 20th centuries that the practice of magic was widespread in the ancient Mediterranean. Historians wanted to keep the activity...
The Banquet (after Plato). second version (1874) by Anselm Feuerbach.

Plato’s Symposium: Is it Just a Joke?

When talking about love in the classical age, we would be utterly remiss to not include Plato’s Symposium in our conversation. Symposium is Plato’s recounting of a, supposedly true, ancient cocktail...
The “Burney Relief,” which is believed to represent either Ishtar, the Mesopotamian goddess of love and war, or her older sister Ereshkigal, Queen of the underworld (c. 19th or 18th century BC).

In Ancient Mesopotamia, Sex among the Gods Shook Heaven and Earth

Sexuality was central to life in ancient Mesopotamia, an area of the Ancient Near East often described as the cradle of western civilisation roughly corresponding to modern-day Iraq, Kuwait, and...
Adult couple in embrace from Siberia.

Skeletons in Love: What is Behind the Loving Embrace in the Andronovo Burials?

There is something unique about the Bronze Age tombs in the Novosibirsk region of Siberia. The Andronovo burials, as they have been called, include dozens of skeletal remains of couples clutching...
Welsh love spoon.

Spooning in Early Modern Wales: The Sweet Symbolism of a Welsh Love Spoon

Roses are red Violets are blue, Presenting a spoon Means I love you While one often thinks of presenting his/her loved ones with flowers or candy as a gesture of romance, it was once more common to...
Statue of lovers

How to Win Love and Ruin A Marriage in 5 Easy Steps: ‘Ars Amatoria’ by Ancient Love Guru, Ovid

Before Tinder and Plenty of Fish took over the dating world , men and women used to resort to meeting each other the old-fashioned way—in person, or not at all. Before the internet, dating advice...
Stalk of basil.

Sacred Plant of Eternal Love and Healing: The Mythology and Magic of Basil

In Mediterranean cuisine it is the symbol of summer and its origins are lost in the mists of time. Fragrant and delicate with its green leaves it manages to tantalize the most demanding palates, it...
'The End of the Song’ – a depiction of the lovers Tristan and Isolde.

Ancient Lovers: Five Touching and Sometimes Tragic Love Stories Before Romeo and Juliet

Do you believe in true love? Are you a romantic in constant search of the one thing that so many novels, poems, and films have been dedicated to, or are you one of those people who doesn’t have much...
The letter (Image courtesy Andong National University)

Last Words of Love Were Sealed for 500 Years in a Korean Tomb

I just want to go to you. Please take me to where you are. My feelings towards you I cannot forget in this world and my sorrow knows no limit. Where would I put my heart now and how can I live with...
Detail of a tomb painting depicting Meretites and Kahai – an ancient Egyptian couple who lived 4,400 years ago.

The Priestess and the Singer: Locked in a Lasting Egyptian Love Story

A beautiful love story bloomed around a tomb painting found in Saqqara, Egypt. The image shows an ancient Egyptian couple in a tender scene. While sweet, this type of image isn’t a common one - so...
Collection of Egyptian Art, design by Anand Balaji

Ostraca: Voices from the Place of Truth—An intimate glimpse into New Kingdom Egypt

Athenians meted out harsh punishments to those who fell afoul of prevalent laws or societal norms. If citizens had done something terrible, they ran the risk of being exiled from the city for up to...
Collage:  design by Anand Balaji

Slew of Surreal Experiences tied to KV62. Carter and Tut: Masks, Mosquitoes, and Mania!

There were several exciting, strange and puzzling happenings in the run-up to the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb and later. While Howard Carter wasn’t sure of the words he had used to describe his...
Detail of a modern depiction of the goddess Ishtar.

Love is a Battlefield: The Legend of Ishtar, First Goddess of Love and War

Louise Pryke / The Conversation As singer Pat Benatar once noted, love is a battlefield . Such use of military words to express intimate, affectionate emotions is likely related to love’s capacity to...
Roman fresco with banquet scene from the Casa dei Casti Amanti (IX 12, 6-8) in Pompeii.

Shave Your Armpits and Don’t Smell Like a Billy-Goat: Ovid’s Art of Love, Relationships and Adultery

Born a year after the assassination of Julius Caesar, Ovid’s first works appeared in the early days of the Augustan principate. Ovid wrote various works throughout his long career, but none so...
The visit of the Queen of Sheba to King Solomon.

Solomon and Sheba: Were a Famous Pharaoh and Queen the Real Protagonists in this Love Story?

The story of Solomon and Sheba is well known as one of love. But it is only when we learn their true identities that we see how much affection and adoration Solomon had for his favorite Queen. He...

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