The origin of prostitution – the oldest profession of mankind


Prostitution is a culture universally seen throughout the world. It is also thought to be the oldest profession of mankind, and said to have roots in the beginning of civilization.

However, it is not clear exactly how prostitution came to be. Even though many archaeologists from around the world have put much effort into finding these roots, a number of questions still remain.

Two main theories regarding the origins of prostitution are the “single origin theory” and the “spontaneous origin theory.” Both theories are unclear on many points, but either one could someday become the predominant theory.

The single origin theory of prostitution

Prostitution is a culture that was born along with human civilization, itself. There are four main ancient civilizations: Mesopotamia, Egypt, the Indus Valley, and China. It was because each of the regions supported human life that they gave birth to these civilizations.

However, it is thought that the birthplace of humanity, itself, is Africa. There are also theories suggesting that different segments of human life were born in the regions they currently reside, but due to such methods as genetic analysis, the theory that Africa was the seed from which mankind sprung has taken center stage.

One can thus suppose that all civilizations actually have roots in Africa, and there must be some kind of correlation between them.

One such correlation is the taboo of looking when you shouldn’t. In the Old Testament, there is an episode called “the Destruction of Sodom and Gomorra.” In this episode, God tells a man named Lot that he must not look back at the cities from which he is fleeing. Ignoring the warning, his wife looks back, and she was turned into a pillar of salt.

There is also a very similar story in Japanese mythology. Izanagi, a male deity, was returning with his wife, Izanami, from the underworld. Even though he had been instructed not to look at her until they were out, he looked back at Izanami and she was horribly disfigured.

Episodes like these, where someone looks back despite being warned not to do so, exist throughout the world. The fact that these similarities exist supports the theory that all civilization was born from one origin (Africa).

In other words, putting aside the history of how the first prostitution came to be, the single origin theory of prostitution states that it was born from the same origin.

The spontaneous origin theory of prostitution

On the other hand, there is also a theory that believes there is a separate origin point of prostitution in each of the different civilizations. This would require us to consider separate reasons for the origins of prostitution in each region. To narrow down the range of our analysis, I would like to discuss how prostitution was born in Japan.

Primitive Japanese society was a hunter-gatherer society. Since agriculture had not yet emerged, it was necessary to obtain food by primitive and uncertain means. You could either take something for yourself or trade it for something different from someone else. Those were the only two options.

If you were a woman, though, there were other options than just giving something in return for something received. You could also sell your own body.

It could be said that this was the instant when the concept of selling a skill for something in return was born.

The concept of selling a skill for something else in return was not limited to Japan, and spread throughout the world along with emerging societies. It could be said that the first thing to come to mind when thinking of “selling a skill” would be selling one’s body. For this reason, prostitution is known as the oldest profession of mankind.

There is much that is still unknown about the origin of prostitution. The fact that it holds a deep history, though, is certain. Prostitution has continuously played a part in shaping history and affecting regions throughout the world. Knowing such an influential history is meaningful and worthwhile.