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History Unplugged Podcast

with Scott Rank

Prostitution Throughout History: Sumerian Temple Priestesses, Ottoman Brothel Workers, and Call-Girls for the Medieval Clergy

00:00 01:15:18
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Prostitution, often known as the world's oldest profession, can be traced throughout recorded history. This cliché is so often repeated it remains completely unexamined. Is prostitution really a natural by-product of human society or does it only appear in circumstances where human sexuality is limited or curtailed?




In this episode we dive deep into the history of prostitution, from ancient Sumeria and its temple prostitutes to Old Testament Israeli sex workers, to Ottoman Istanbul, and finally to the red-light districts of Amsterdam. In particular we will look at


Herodotus' account of the Mesopotamian ritual of sacred prostitution in which Babylonian woman had to attend the temple of Ishtar and agree to sex with any male that askedOld Testament prostitutes from Rahab—heroine of Jericho—to Gomer, a harlot whom the prophet Hosea married as an analogy of Israel's unfaithfulness to YahwehCivic brothels that existed in every medieval European cityOttoman prostitutes who used Islamic law about widows and temporary marriage to cheat the tax codeThe 19th century question over whether prostitution should be legalized and regulated to reduce syphilis or made illegal to reduce public immorality  
April 19, 2018
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Meet Your Host
Scott Rank is the host of the History Unplugged Podcast and a PhD in history who specialized in the Ottoman Empire and modern Turkey. Before going down the academic route he worked as a journalist in Istanbul. He has written 12 history books on topics ranging from lost Bronze Age civilizations to the Age of Discovery. Some of his books include The Age of Illumination: Science, Technology, and Reason in the Middle Ages and History’s 9 Most Insane Rulers.. Learn more about him by going to scottrankphd.com.
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