ARTS & CULTURE

Oldest Known Depiction Of Circumcision Is Now On Twitter

06/18/2014 01:56 pm ET

Historians, anthropologists and religious scholars often disagree on the origins of circumcision, the surgical removal of the foreskin. But a colorful recreation of what may be the oldest depiction of circumcision has made its way to Twitter, thanks to online education site Open Culture.

The image comes from a relief on the tomb of Ankhmahor, a priest and advisor who lived during the 6th Dynasty -- roughly 2323-2150 B.C.E.

According to religion scholar Gerald A. Larue, ancient historian Herodotus visited Egypt in the 5th century B.C.E. and reported that the Egyptians "practice circumcision for the sake of cleanliness, for they place cleanliness before comeliness." Herodotus also suggested that Jews had adopted the custom from the Egyptians, though Larue notes there is no way to be sure of the practice's origins.

Religions and cultures around the world practice circumcision for different reasons, but perhaps none as devoutly as the Jewish community. According to the Torah, circumcision is a requirement laid out from God who in Genesis 17: 9-14 commanded Abraham to circumcise himself, all male members of his household, his descendants and all his slaves.

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