It isn’t inconceivable that men and women have been having sex since the dawn of time. And it’s also not inconceivable that men and men or women and women have been having sex since the dawn of time. And who cares who did what way back when, because we’re all here now, aren’t we? It hurts to start thinking back that far, wondering which twists of fate would’ve meant no existence for one of us… Thank goodness that the people who had sex, had sex when they did, because life is a beautiful thing and we should all be happy we have it.
So, primitive man. What was the sex like back then? What about for Egyptians? Romans? People in the Middle Ages? We had to dig deep into the archives for this one, but with the help of just a little creativity, we’ve managed to put together a list of ten of the oldest sex positions in history.
Obviously history only started being physically recorded after a certain point. And with the differences in sexual taste, sexual practices, culture, and technology, it can be hard to tell what was “explicit” in the past and what was just...people hugging. Enjoy this potent, sometimes unexpected list of ancient sex positions.
10 Up Close and Personal
The Ain Sakhri Lovers Figurine, circa 9,000 B.C.E. is the oldest depiction of two people engaging in some kind of sexual intercourse. The couple is definitely making love, no one disputes that, but it’s hard to tell exactly how they’re making love. The figurine is heavily worn since it is, you know, ancient. It almost looks like a lap-sitting position. Both torsos are upright, but arms and legs are wrapped around each other. It’s more typical to see vaginal intercourse conducted this way, but we suppose some back door action wouldn’t be too far fetched. It’s difficult to tell because of the way they’re pressed together like that. And because they’re carved out of stone... The oldest depiction of sex? Too close to call.
9 Oh Chariot!
The next oldest depiction of sex on record is the Turin Erotic Papyrus. This one shows Egyptians in all their fornicating glory. The first position on this erotic papyrus? Chariot sex. There is a woman, standing, bent over, in a chariot. And then there’s a man standing behind her on the ground. And he is clearly doing his business from behind. He’s even standing up on his tip-toes to reach. A very dedicated, very driven man, that Egyptian fornicator. He appears to be holding items in his hands, but neither object seems to be playing much of a role in the act itself. It might just be Egyptian spirits and Egyptian drugs.
8 Four on the Floor
For the next depiction we pull again from the Turin Erotic Papyrus. It’s an absolute gold mine for ancient kinkiness. And the Egyptians were apparently really into this kind of thing. Good for them. Sometimes they would even attach fake penile appendages to their burial arrangements so that they could get some in the afterlife.
Anyway, this next position shows an extremely tall woman bent over at the waist, with her head down by her feet. It’s almost like she’s doing a forward roll. A man who appears to be a little over half her height has run up from behind. He is poking her from behind with what looks like a good 25 inches of manhood. Early adaption of doggy-style, perhaps?
7 Wild Side
The next panel of images in the Turin Erotic Papyrus is a bunch of animals dancing and playing instruments. Real wild stuff, but no sex positions to see there. So let us turn to some Roman pottery instead! Things get a little beastly here.
Mythology played a huge role in Greek and subsequently Roman culture. This sculpture (which is Roman in origin) shows Pan, a satyr from Greek mythology. If you’ve seen Disney’s animated Hercules movie, or The Chronicles of Narnia, you know what satyrs are. They’re little creatures with the bottom half of a goat and the top half of a man (typically with horns, too). This sculpture depicts Pan having sex with a goat that is on its back. A little half-beast on beast action. Since satyrs have a human-level of sentience, we’re thinking this counts as bestiality, performed in augmented missionary style.
6 Old Fashioned
Let’s take it back to the Turin, and humans, for this one. The surface on which these people are having sex is slanted. But if you flattened it out horizontally, they would be in the missionary position. As depicted, it’s the 45 degree missionary. Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of years later, in the Middle Ages, the missionary position was considered the only position that wasn’t sinful. As if being relegated to this position wasn’t enough, any deviation from this position was punishable by a variety of sentences. It was the church telling you how you were supposed to have sex, and they picked the most unimaginative one possible. Utility begets fertility, as no one ever says!
5 Walk like an Egyptian
Guys. The Turin. We are not kidding, it’s an incredible sex-moves resource. This particular position will have you walking like an Egyptian, probably for days afterward. And not the cool Egyptian way with the arms bent and the hands pointed. It’ll just be a sore shuffle. This move has one leg on the ground, the other leg up in the air, so that the female’s torso is perpendicular to the male’s body. He holds her elevated leg and the same arm and enters her from a standing position. It seems like an extremely challenging position, especially for the woman. But in that culture, who knows what was possible? They built the pyramids, after all.
4 Girl on Top
We don’t mean Cleopatra, what a ruler! We mean that girl on top was obviously a position! At least as early as 1100 BCE. Probably earlier. It is another position depicted on the Turin, our most fleshed-out depiction of ancient sex positions. There is some primitive-man cave art that researchers discovered. They determined it was a giant picture of a woman's privates. Men have been worshipping it for as long as they could carve pictures into stone. In this particular Egyptian-rendered position though, it might be that Egyptian women were worshipping the unfathomable size of their male counterparts. All of the men depicted in the Turin have huge members.
3 Love From Afar
This deserves a spot because it was a hilariously futile thing from the Middle Ages. Or it was a heartbreakingly chivalrous thing, you can decide.
It was kind of like stalking, but since you could only do it in person and not on Facebook, it was more charming and less creepy. Stalking implies some nasty business, and this wasn’t really like that. Though the mental instability might have been present. It’s almost touching, actually.
It’s the story of the noble warrior who falls in love with a married, pure, or otherwise unattainable woman. And so, unable to court her rightly, and unwilling to tarnish his honor with any overt, explicit advances; he is stuck admiring her from afar, while refusing all other advances. Often, the man would eventually going to war and "die" for her. Poor, courtly knights. Perhaps the correct position to identify here is “masturbation,” not “love from afar.”
2 Getting Your Roman On?
Men have sex with men a lot, especially in Roman times. It wasn’t even a thing that raised any attention. The Romans’ black and white breakdown of sex was not heterosexual and homosexual, it was kind of just singularly “sex.” Romans, like the Egyptians, had it right. Do whatever you want as long as it’s not in excess and does not infringe upon the rights of a man’s masculine peers. There was no judgement cast on a man who was having sex, regardless of the gender of his partner.
As long as it isn’t hurting anybody, there’s no harm! Ancient Roman anal, all the way.
This is an ancient text. It was composed sometime after 400 BCE, historians aren’t exactly sure when, but they sight a range of about 600 years. This is a sex move compendium that’s still floating around today. Although, contrary to popular belief, the original Kamasutra was not exclusively a sex book. It had very practical advice for those looking to engage in sexual intercourse, sure. It also had information to help readers live a gracious, joyous life. It had advice for family living and other facets of human existence. But about 20% of it was sex positions. How to have a family and enjoy them too!