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Sex acts that were considered taboo (such as those that defiled the purity of the mouth) were depicted in baths for comic effect.Large phalli were often used near entryways, for the phallus was a good-luck charm, and the carvings were common in homes.

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In some cases, the possession of certain books, engravings or image collections was outlawed, but the trend to compose laws that actually restricted viewing sexually explicit things in general was a Victorian construct.The ancient Greeks often painted sexual scenes on their ceramics, many of them famous for being some of the earliest depictions of same-sex relations and pederasty.Greek art often portrays sexual activity, but it is impossible to distinguish between what to them was illegal or immoral since the ancient Greeks did not have a concept of pornography.Pornography has existed throughout recorded history and has adapted to each new medium, including photography, cinema, video, and computers and the internet. government from restricting speech based on its content.The first instances of modern pornography date back to the sixteenth century when sexually explicit images differentiated itself from traditional sexual representations in European art by combining the traditionally explicit representation of sex and the moral norms of those times. Indecent speech is protected and may be regulated, but not banned.The Greek male ideal had a small penis, an aesthetic the Romans later adopted.

There are numerous sexually explicit paintings and sculptures from the ruined Roman buildings in Pompeii and Herculaneum but the original purposes of the depictions can vary.

In Pompeii, phalli and testicles engraved in the sidewalks were created to aid visitors in finding their way by pointing to the prostitution and entertainment district as well as general decoration.

The Romans considered depictions of sex to be decoration in good taste, and indeed the pictures reflect the sexual mores and practices of their culture, as on the Warren Cup.

When large-scale excavations of Pompeii were undertaken in the 1860s, much of the erotic art of the Romans came to light, shocking the Victorians who saw themselves as the intellectual heirs of the Roman Empire.

They did not know what to do with the frank depictions of sexuality, and endeavored to hide them away from everyone but upper-class scholars.

As there is no direct evidence of the use of these objects, it is speculated that they may have been used in religious rituals, Archaeologists in Germany reported in April 2005 that they had found what they believe is a 7,200-year-old scene depicting a male figurine bending over a female figurine in a manner suggestive of sexual intercourse.