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EUROPA
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Prehistoric Italy
Addaura






Near the end of the Upper Paleolithic Era, (c. 12,000 BC) human beings have left artifacts and works of art suggesting an appreciation of homo eroticism, and material evidence for dildoes seems to stretch back to the Ice Age.

Examples of homo-eroticism in European Mesolithic art include this rock engraving found in Addaura, Sicily, in which men and women dance around two cavorting male figures, both of whom have visible erections.

Rome, up to 5th century BC
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Rome, 4th century BC
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Representations of sexual acts are widely found in Italy, both in pre-Roman (Greecian and Etruscan) and in Roman art, on wall-paintings, glass and pottery vessels, wall hangings, terracotta lamps and in sculpture, that stood in market places and in both public and private buildings. They were thus commonly seen by both sexes, and all sections of society.

Rome, 3rd century BC
Attalos






Rome, 2nd century BC
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You might figure these works would have been for private perusal during ancient Roman times as well. You'd be wrong. Archaeologists say erotica was commonplace and ubiquitous back then: in bedrooms, gardens and - most popular of all - the dining room. A large erection, for example, was considered a sign of prosperity. The image decorated serving trays, made a conveniently sized lamp, even graced front doors. Popular frescoes, meanwhile, showed a pantheon of possible sexual positions.
Rome, 1st century BC
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Rome, 1st century CE
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In the bathrooms of Pompeii there are scenes depicting a variety of sexual acts - homosexual, heterosexual, sex between several people at once - which would have been viewed by the men and women who changed there. The Romans had no concept of, or word for, homosexuality, while in the Greek world the partnering of older men with youths was an accepted element of education.

Most of these pieces are in Naples Museum, in "The Secret Cabinet". They were hidden in there for years, deemed far too risque for public display. Now the collection of ancient erotic art is out in the open at Naples' National Museum of Archaeology - proof that times have changed and that people aren't as easily shocked. Much of this erotic art was discovered in the ancient Roman city of Pompeii, which was entombed by volcanic ash when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 A.D. and was excavated in the 1700s. A great part of the collection was assembled by a Catholic cardinal in the 18th century, but it was for his private viewing pleasure, not for public display.

Rome, 2nd century CE
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Rome






Rome, 3rd century CE
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Rome, Date unknown
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