The first diagnosis to determine infertility was made 4,000 years ago, an ancient Assyrian clay tablet discovered by Turkish researchers in central Kayseri province.
Various researchers from different universities led by Şanlıurfa’s Harran University examined a 4,000-year-old Assyrian tablet containing a prenuptial agreement and found out that the first infertility diagnosis was made in central Kayseri province’s Kültepe district.
The clay tablet written in cuneiform script discusses infertility and a solution for the issue, which is the inability of a person to reproduce through natural means.
Professor Ahmet Berkız Turp from Harran University’s Gynecology and Obstetrics Department told NTV that the clay prenuptial agreements addressed the issue of infertility in Assyrian families.
Accordingly, the wife would allow her husband to hire a hierodule – a female slave brought in to serve as a surrogate – if the couple failed to conceive a baby two years after the date of marriage.
“The female slave would be freed after giving birth to the first male baby and ensuring that the family is not be left without a child,” Professor Turp said.
In many countries, surrogacy had been a prevalent practice since pre-historic times. Many cultures had the concept of surrogacy integrated into their belief systems to such an extent that those who refused to abide by it were actually thrown out of their families.
Chapter 16 in the Book of Genesis tells the story of Sarah, the wife of Abraham who could not bear him a child and thus gave him her servant Hagar so that she could be the mother of his children. This story is a somewhat primitive version of ‘traditional surrogacy’, a concept where artificial insemination is used to impregnate a woman with a man’s sperm (and in most cases, his wife/partner, like Sarah, is infertile).
The results of the research have been published in the medical journal of Gynecological Endocrinology and the tablet is on display at the Istanbul Archaeology Museum.
The surviving Mesopotamian medical texts reveal that ancient doctors diagnosed and treated a wide variety of conditions and diseases, with mixed success. Among them were typhus, smallpox, bubonic plague, gonorrhea, gout, tuberculosis, epilepsy, colic, diarrhea, and various intestinal problems. Some forms of mental illness were also recognized, though not properly understood.
Assyria was a complex Mesopotamian civilization dating back to the 25thcentury B.C.
Kültepe was home to an Assyrian settlement of the Old Assyrian Empire from the 21st to 18th centuries B.C.
Over 1,000 cuneiform tablets were discovered at the site in 1925, while modern archaeological work started in 1948.