I was reading some random stuff the other day and came across the following which i thought was pretty interesting...
Matriarchy was practiced in the earlier period of Mesopotamian civilization., the southern area of Babylonia between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers to Assyria, the northern part of Mesopotamia. The Mesopotamian society practiced sexual openness.
In ancient Mesopotamia, Ishtar was the primary Goddess of life, men and women, nature and fertility, sex, sexual power and birth. Ishtar was also the goddess of war and weapons and any victory was celebrated in her temples with offerings of produce and money as well as through a feast and orgy of sex and fornication with holy temple prostitutes. Every woman was required, at least once in her lifetime, usually after she was married, to go to the Temple of Ishtar. She waited there till any stranger came and threw silver in her lap. Then she left the temple and had sex with the stranger, after which she could return home. She was not allowed to refuse the first stranger. To quote the Greek historian Herodotus:
"The worst Babylonian custom is that which compels every woman of the land once in her life to sit in the temple of love and have... intercourse with some stranger... the men pass and make their choice"
With the changing time, the shift from matriarchy to patriarchy occurred.. With this shift, Ishtar lost some of her status and glory, and several male gods surfaced. Temples of Ishtar became abode to sacred prostitutes or priestesses known as Ishtaru or Joy-Maidens and places for exchange of sexual services for a price. This was in no way considered a shameful profession and laws were passed making it serious offence to talk badly about the holy prostitutes.
In some temples of Ishtar, even male prostitutes (for the use of other men) were found. They were referred to as men "...whose manhood Ishtar has changed into womanhood." At a later stage of Babylonian culture, the attitude had changed: the Middle Assyrian Law Tablets, dating back to 12th century BC make it clear that some kinds of homosexuality could lead to castration. As in most civilizations, incest of any kind was strictly forbidden and was considered a capital crime.