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Q: history of intercourse ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   1 Comment )
Subject: history of intercourse
Category: Relationships and Society
Asked by: kdmac6-ga
List Price: $10.00
Posted: 25 Jun 2002 15:14 PDT
Expires: 25 Jul 2002 15:14 PDT
Question ID: 33163
At what period in history did humans make the biological connection
between intercourse and pregnancy?  My guess would be about 10000
years ago
Subject: Re: history of intercourse
Answered By: thx1138-ga on 25 Jun 2002 19:52 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hi kdmac6 and thank you for a very interesting question,

During my (extensive!) research I came across several sites which
described the studies of anthropologists in Australia as well as some
Pacific islands whose inhabitants (up until recently) did not
recognize the correlation between intercourse and pregnancy.  However
there is doubt as to whether these tribes ‘actually’ believed that. 
What I mean is that either for religious or social reasons that was
the ‘official’ explanation, but their actual understanding of
reproduction might have been more correct.

Here are a couple of extracts from the websites:
“That is, it was fairly common knowledge, particularly among Jigalong
youth, that white European Australians believed in a link between sex
and pregnancy-this was what the whites would tell the 'ignorant
Aborigines' at every possible occasion. Jigalong ideas in this
post-contact era were, however, not so clear cut, and Tonkinson found
through direct fieldwork experience that the elder men were adamant
that talk of semen and menstrual blood was 'dirty talk' which was
offensive to relate to discourses on human conception, in which it was
assumed that humans came about by the in-carnating of Dreaming
'spirit' beings.”

“Australian Aborigines, who believed that a spirit enters woman's womb
causing her to conceive (Ashley-Montagu 1937, cf. Hiatt 1990: 114);
the Trobriand Islanders, who believed that conception succeeds when a
spirit-child animated by the ancestral spirit baloma enters woman's
belly (Malinowski 1968); and the Tully River Blacks, who believed that
a woman begets children because she has been sitting over the fire,
roasting a particular species of black bream given to her by a
prospective father, or dreams about a child being put inside her (Roth
1903: 22, cf. Spiro 1968: 242).”

The truth is that we will never know when people became aware of the
relationship between intercourse and pregnancy.

“For most of humanity's existence the notion of fatherhood was
non-existent, as the relationship between sex and pregnancy wasn't
known. It is impossible to say when this discovery was made, but even
after the notion of paternity was established there was a tendency for
a child's kinship to be traced primarily or only through its mother as
the biological father's identity was still doubtful.”

Have a look at this e-mail discussion from the University of Sydney
which asks exactly the same question that you did:
“When did man first recognize the correlation between intercourse and
babies being born 3 seasons later?”

As you will see a website recommended in the discussion above is this

There is not much to go on by way of hard facts, however based on my
research it would seem that the realization that intercourse=babies
might have come about when mankind first started breeding animals
between 10 and 30 thousand years ago so your estimate of ten thousand
years ago fits in quite well !

I hope this has helped to answer your question and on behalf of many
other researchers and readers, thanks for a truly thought provoking


Search Terms Used:
"relationship between sex and pregnancy"

correlation  sex  pregnancy primitive
kdmac6-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
I'm sorry it took this long.  It was a fine answer that will aid me in my research

Subject: Re: history of intercourse
From: mvguy-ga on 26 Jun 2002 06:50 PDT
One approach to discovering the answer would be to find out when
barrier methods of contraception first started being used.  Vaginal
suppositories were used in ancient Egypt, primitive condoms have been
used for a few thousand years, and Genesis 38:9 makes reference to
premature withdrawal as a method of contraception. These practices
suggest that knowledge of what causes pregnancy has been around at
least since 2000 BCE or so.

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