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The practice of piercing of the foreskin for the insertion of jewellery is as old as circumcision, and is of immemorial antiquity, going back far beyond the earliest recorded history. During the games of Ancient Greece, the athletes performed nude, and to prevent their penises moving about they bound the foreskin with a ribbon and tied it to the base of the penis. This ribbon. or leather thong was called the "Kynodesme" from the Greek "Kuon" foreskin, and "Desmos" fastening band. This temporary practice probably led to the permanent piercing of the foreskin, either to prevent slaves and athletes from having sex, or to prevent them from having erections. The Roman's used a practice called Infibulation, it involved two piercings going through the foreskin (or Labia in women) and a lock (Fibula) being placed therein.

The Roman historian Mensius declares that Infibulation may be traced back to the time of the siege of Troy (12th Century BC) for he points out that according to "The Odyssey" (Bk. VIII, Line 477) Agamemnon departed for the Trojan War, and left his wife Clytemnestra, in the care of the singer Demodecus, seeing that he had been infibulated.

The prevalence of the practice is attested to by the number of references to it, to be found in ancient writings. The roman writers Juvenal, Martial, Strabo, Fallopio, and Hieronymus Mercurialis all make mention of the practice. The piercing process is described in detail by the famous 1st Century Roman physician Celsus, in his treatise on medicine "De Medecina"

This article was published on Tuesday 02 October, 2007.

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