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Sacred prostitution, temple prostitution, cult prostitution, shrine prostitution and religious prostitution are general terms for a supposed sexual rite consisting of sexual intercourse or other sexual activity performed in the context of religious worship, sometimes speculated to be a form of fertility rite or divine marriage (hieros gamos). In most instances it was supposed that money would change hands and all or part of the payment would belong to the deity. Some scholars have used the terms "sacred sex" or "sacred sexual rites" in cases where payment for services was not involved.
Until recently Sacred prostitution had been commonly accepted by historians as an historical practice of the Ancient Near East and the Mediterranean in Classical Antiquity. However since the 1970s modern scholarship has overturned the assumptions on which this was based, and has determined that there is little evidence for its historical practice in these regions during this period. Today the mainstream consensus among scholars is that such practices are an historical myth, they never existed in practice but were rather a common literary trope used to denigrate foreign cultures and peoples.
- 1 Origins of the myth in the West
- 2 Development of the myth in Western scholarship
- 3 Sacred prostitution in non-Western cultures
- 4 Recent Western occurrences
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 Further reading
- 8 External links
Origins of the myth in the West
Ancient Near Eastern Mesopotamian societies along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers featured many shrines and temples or houses of heaven dedicated to various deities. One passage from the 5th-century BCE writer Herodotus's Histories and some other writings from the Hellenistic period and Late antiquity first spread the tales that foreign societies encouraged the practice of sacred sexual rites not only in Babylonia and Cyprus, but throughout the Near East.
Herodotus claimed that the rites performed at one temple in the city of Babylon included sexual intercourse, or what scholars later called sacred sexual rites. He also claimed that similar rites took place in some parts of Cyprus, though he didn’t say where:
The foulest Babylonian custom is that which compels every woman of the land to sit in the temple of Aphrodite and have intercourse with some stranger at least once in her life. Many women who are rich and proud and disdain to mingle with the rest, drive to the temple in covered carriages drawn by teams, and stand there with a great retinue of attendants. But most sit down in the sacred plot of Aphrodite, with crowns of cord on their heads; there is a great multitude of women coming and going; passages marked by line run every way through the crowd, by which the men pass and make their choice. Once a woman has taken her place there, she does not go away to her home before some stranger has cast money into her lap, and had intercourse with her outside the temple; but while he casts the money, he must say, "I invite you in the name of Mylitta". It does not matter what sum the money is; the woman will never refuse, for that would be a sin, the money being by this act made sacred. So she follows the first man who casts it and rejects no one. After their intercourse, having discharged her sacred duty to the goddess, she goes away to her home; and thereafter there is no bribe however great that will get her. So then the women that are fair and tall are soon free to depart, but the uncomely have long to wait because they cannot fulfil the law; for some of them remain for three years, or four. There is a custom like this in some parts of Cyprus.
Although Herodotus is referred to as an historian, his accounts consist largely of selective gossip which he had heard from others about places he himself had never travelled. Stephanie Budin writes that “Herodotus, like all Greeks, wrote about ‘barbarians’ with the intention of proving the superiority of Greeks, and allegations of cannibalism and sexual licentiousness abound. In his descriptions of barbarian sexual mores, he may also have been trying to show the horrible results that could follow if proper women were not kept as guarded and secluded as they were in Greece. All the later Roman and Christian allegations of sexual initiation ultimately derive from this one passage in Herodotus.”
J. G. Westenholz writes: “Such allegations [of sacred prostitution] first appear in the work of Herodotus whose view of Mesopotamian culture was considerably biased and whose speculations have been elaborated by Strabo in his Geography, and by other classical authors.”
R. Oden, in his analysis of the literary sources for sacred prostitution, concludes, “What appears to be a list of more than a dozen sources may in fact be a list of a couple of sources, perhaps even and ultimately a single source: Herodotus.”
Strabo wrote his Geographica in c. 17-18 CE. Budin argues that though 25% of historians’ evidence for sacred prostitution comes from Strabo, most of this is a mistake in translation by modern readers who have translated Strabo’s terms such as hierodule, pallakis, and kataporneuô as referring to sacred prostitution when the language does not refer to any such thing. The only place where Strabo legitimately refers to sacred prostitution is when he speaks of Babylon, and this he derives primarily from Herodotus. Budin argues that: “Strabo does not function as independent, corroborating evidence for Herodotus in this case; rather, the Roman-age geographer merely repeats second or third hand what had been passed down to him in apparently garbled fashion. Strabo appears to be confused about Babylonian sacred prostitution, and his description, as we shall see, betrays his mistrust of the evidence.” Budin demonstrates that the rest of Strabo’s evidence similarly derived from Strabo’s confusion over local customs.
The fifth-century BCE Greek poet Pindar was understood to have alleged that the city of Corinth engaged in the practice of sacred prostitution. This has received considerable attention from scholars of Greek history, since as Robin Osbourne argues in The Oxford Handbook of Ancient Greek Religion any sexual activity within Greek sanctuaries was considered absolutely unacceptable, so this would be an extremely odd practice to occur in Corinth.
”Young women visited by many, attendants of Persuasion in wealthy Corinth, who burn the fresh, amber drops of frankincense often fluttering in thought to the mother of loves, Ouranian Aphrodite. To you without blame she granted, O children, on lovely beds to have plucked the fruit of soft youth. With necessity all is lovely…But I wonder what the masters of the Isthmos will say of me finding such a beginning to a honey-minded skolion a companion to shared women. We reveal gold by a pure touchstone. …O Mistress of Cyprus, here to your grove the hundred-limbed herd of grazing girls Xenophon brought, delighting in his prayers fulfilled.” (Pindar, Fragment 122)
The third century CE author Athenaeus introduces this verse in his Deipnosophistae with the explanation: “And private citizens (viz. in Corinth) promise the goddess (Aphrodite) that if their prayers are answered they will even dedicate prostitutes to her. Since such a custom existed concerning the goddess, Xenophon of Corinth, when setting out for the Olympic games, promised the goddess that if he won he would dedicate prostitutes to her.”
Athenaeus however was reporting on events he was not witness to. And apart from these assumptions of Athenaeus, modern scholars have noted that the verse itself is far too vague to prove anything about sacred prostitution. Various scholars, for instance Budin, Claude Calame, and Pirenne-Delforge disagree over the alternative reading of the verse, but all agree that “sacred prostitution never existed in Corinth”. 
Other evidence from Ancient Greece and the Hellenistic world
The Greek term hetairai, hierodoulos or hierodule has sometimes been taken to mean sacred prostitute, but it is more likely to refer to a female slave belonging to the temple or a former slave freed from slavery in order to be dedicated to a god.
Christian writers in Late Antiquity
Eusebius claimed that the Phoenician cities of Aphaca and Heliopolis (Baalbek) continued to practise temple prostitution until the emperor Constantine put an end to the rite in the 4th century AD.
Other Christian writers were Clement of Alexandria, Arnobius of Sicca, Lactantius, Athanasius of Alexandria, Firmicus Maternus, Augustine of Hippo, Sokrates Scholasticus, and Sozomen. Scholars argue that these were common accusational polemics, and are not credible.
Development of the myth in Western scholarship
Nineteenth century scholars often took Herodotus, Strabo and others at face value, failing to analyse them critically. In the twentieth century, the Scottish anthropologist and mythologist James Frazer sought to accumulate citations to prove sacred prostitution in a chapter of his magnum opus The Golden Bough (1890–1915), and this served as a foundation for several generations of scholars. Frazer’s argument was highly speculative and selective, but his work proved enormously popular and his influence over later European thought was substantial. Frazer and Fernando Henriques speculated that there were two major forms of sacred sexual rites: temporary rite of unwed girls (with variants such as dowry-sexual rite, or as public defloration of a bride), and lifelong sexual rite.
In Stephanie Budin’s work she quotes G. Leick: “The ‘sacred prostitute,’ who engages in sex as a magical rite in the context of some fertility cult or officiates in the rites of Inanna/Ištar, belongs to the ‘Golden Bough’ school of historical anthropology.” Budin also presents the argument by Julia Assante: “This vision [of sacred prostitution] was largely derived from the 19th century view of ancient Mesopotamia as a forum of naive and primitive sexual freedom allowable before the Old Testament prophets imposed their more austere mores. The notion of Mesopotamia's sexual freedom … was anachronistically based in the 19th century version of it as an exclusively male preserve.”
Modern research by Daniel Arnaud, J. G. Westenholz,  Vinciane Pirenne-Delforge, Julia Assante, Stephanie Budin and others has cast the whole tradition of scholarship that defined the concept of sacred prostitution into doubt. These scholars regard the concept of sacred prostitution as a myth—arguing that the practices described in the sources simply never existed.
The development of the myth of sacred prostitution was further founded on mistranslations and misunderstandings of several other texts and traditions from the Ancient Near East.
The practice of sacred marriage has not been fully proven in any Ancient Near Eastern cultures, despite many popular descriptions of the practice. Along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers there was a temple of Eanna, meaning house of heaven dedicated to Inanna in the Eanna District of Uruk.Through the twentieth century, scholars commonly believed that a form of sacred marriage rite or hieros gamos was staged between the king of a Sumerian city-state and the High Priestess of Inanna, the Sumerian goddess of sexual love, fertility, and warfare, but no certain evidence has survived to prove that sexual intercourse was included.
Julia Assante has shown that the concept of the 'sacred marriage' (hieros gamos) has been misunderstood. It was previously believed to have been a custom whereby the king coupled with the high priestess to represent the union of Dumuzid with Inanna (later called Ishtar). It is much more likely that these unions never occurred but were embellishments to the image of the king; hymns which praise Middle Eastern kings for coupling with the goddess Ishtar often speak of him as running 320 kilometres (200 miles), offering sacrifices, feasting with the sun-god Utu, and receiving a royal crown from An, all in a single day. One scholar comments: "No one, to the best of my knowledge, has been so wooden-minded to propose that human actors played the role of Utu and An at the banquet." The temple did house priestesses of the goddess, but there is no evidence that they performed any kind of sexual services in any cult.
Code of Hammurabi
In Hammurabi's code of laws, the rights and good name of female priestesses and temple servants were protected. The same legislation that protected married women from slander applied to them and their children. They could inherit property from their fathers, collect income from land worked by their brothers, and dispose of property. These rights have been described as extraordinary, taking into account the role of women at the time.
The Code has often been used in the past as evidence for the existence of Sacred prostitution in Babylon. However this relies solely on a mistranslation of several Akkadian words. §178, §179, and §181 refer to ugbabtu, nadītu, sekretu, and qadistu. As these terms referred to women involved in temple business, scholars commonly assumed that these referred to sexual activity. As Stephanie Budin explains: “For decades, almost every professional title ascribed to a female in either Sumerian or Akkadian was translated as "(sacred) prostitute", apparently on the grounds that women could serve no other function in the business world”.
A more careful translation of the words have led modern scholars to determine that ugbabtu referred to a class of priestesses, nadītu were a form of sequestered religious order, sekretu are “palace women” such as attendants and servants, and qadistu was another group of religious functionaries who assisted women with midwifery and priests with purification rituals. None of these women performed any sexual role within the temple.
The Hebrew Bible uses two different words for prostitute, zonah (זונה) and kedeshah (or qedesha) (קדשה). The word zonah simply meant an ordinary prostitute or loose woman. But the word kedeshah literally means set apart (feminine form), from the Semitic root q-d-sh (קדש) meaning holy or set apart. The terms kedeshah and zonah however are synonymous and are often used interchangeably in the Hebrew Bible. Two verses make it clear that such prostitution had no place within Yahweh's worship. Deuteronomy 23:17-18:
None of the daughters of Israel shall be a kedeshah, nor shall any of the sons of Israel be a kadesh.
You shall not bring the hire of a prostitute (zonah) or the wages of a dog (kelev) into the house of the Lord your God to pay a vow, for both of these are an abomination to the Lord your God.
Historically Kedeshah (קדשה) was understood as a sacred prostitute in temple fertility cults. But modern scholars have provided significant criticism of the common belief that any culture in the Mediterranean and Ancient Near East ever practised sacred prostitution. The term refers simply to "she who is set apart for sexual services, a prostitute".
“Mayer Gruber, after a comprehensive examination of relevant sources, concludes regarding the qadistu and the Hebrew קְדֵשָׁה [kedesha] that ‘there is no evidence either that the Akkadian qadistu was a prostitute or that Hebrew קְדֵשָׁה was a cultic functionary’.
Male prostitutes were called kadesh or qadesh (literally: male who is set apart). The Hebrew word kelev (dog) in the next line may also signify a male dancer or prostitute.
Most Bible translations do not reflect the latest scholarship in this area and the most commonly used translations refer to "male temple prostitutes" [NRSV] or similarly "male shrine prostitutes" [NIV], whereas older translations refer to "Sodomites" and "the Houses of the Sodomites" [KJV, GNV].
Sumerian royal love songs
Influenced by James Frazer and the Myth and Ritual School, scholars in the past such as the Assyriologist Samuel Noah Kramer and Henri Frankfort argued that kings in the ancient Near Eastern region of Sumer established their legitimacy and encouraged agricultural prosperity by taking part in a ritual sexual act with the priestess of the temple of the goddess Inanna (later worshipped by the Akkadians, Babylonians, and Assyrians as Ishtar) every year on the tenth day of the New Year festival Akitu.
This argument was based solely on speculation over royal love songs from Sumer, which imply a sexual encounter between the goddess Inanna (AKA Nanaya/Ninisma) and her consort, the god Dumazzi (or the king in the role of Dumazzi). Because the king was understood to be both the descendant and representative of Dumazzi, these scholars suggested that the mythological sexual congress of the gods was re-enacted each year in real life. However there is no direct reference in any text to any sexual act between the king and the priestess, including texts we have which detail rituals themselves. Therefore the idea that the romantic poetry is evidence for a literal ritual sexual coupling is no longer accepted. Modern scholars read these literary texts as mythological and the sacred marriage between the king and the goddess Inanna as solely metaphorical.
Epic of Gilgamesh and Shamhat
In the past some scholars have suggested that the Epic of Gilgamesh provides evidence of sacred prostitution in its depiction of Shamhat and her interactions with the wild man Enkidu. In Tablets 1 and 2 of the Epic Shamhat is asked by the trapper to visit Enkidu to teach him about civilization. Shamhat is never portrayed as working for a temple, or performing any religious acts. Neither is she ever paid for sex. Nevertheless, this has not prevented scholars from calling her a "sacred prostitute". This is based solely on the translation of the word by which she is described: harimtu. Some modern scholars translate this simply as a prostitute, an ordinary sex worker who commonly worked in taverns, though others argue that it refers more generally to someone outside the normal boundaries of married sexuality. 
If the harimtu was a prostitute who worked in taverns (though there is no evidence of this in the text of the Epic) then it is true that Ishtar was considered to be the patron goddess of taverns and their inhabitants. The Temple of Ishtar may also have had some role in owning or managing the business of the tavern. However there is no evidence for the temple’s involvement in prostitution or that it was considered part of the temple’s religious work. Westenholz points out that we have very little information as to the nature of the relationship between the Temple and the Tavern, and we can infer nothing about the relationship from the little evidence we have. 
Consequently Westenholz defines harimtu as “one who is outside the culturally defined bounds of controlled sexuality”. Julia Assante goes further than this. She rejects the argument that harimtu was even a profession of any kind, but just a label for a single woman who had authority over her own sexuality, and thus had the freedom to have intercourse with any man she chose.
Sacred prostitution in non-Western cultures
In Southern India and the eastern Indian state of Odisha, devadasi is a practice where women devote themselves to a life of training in religious dance and music. It has sometimes been claimed that this also involved hierodulic prostitution, with similar customary forms such as basavi, and involves dedicating pre-pubescent and young adolescent girls from villages in a ritual marriage to a deity or a temple, who then work in the temple and function as spiritual guides, dancers, and prostitutes servicing male devotees in the temple. Human Rights Watch reports claim that modern-day devadasis are forced into this service and, at least in some cases, to practice prostitution for upper-caste members.
The devadasis were originally seen as intercessors who allowed upper-caste men to have contact with the gods. However in the nineteenth century their religious dancing was confused with the dancing of the nautch (non-religious dancers who performed as private entertainers) by the British who accused both groups of being prostitutes and blamed them for the spread of syphilis. This stigmatisation led to decline in support for the system and the devadasis who could no longer support themselves by their work in the temples were forced into entering prostitution for survival. Many scholars have stated that the Hindu scriptures do not permit or mention the system.
Various state governments in India enacted laws to ban this practice both prior to India's independence and more recently. They include Bombay Devdasi Act, 1934, Devdasi (Prevention of dedication) Madras Act, 1947, Karnataka Devdasi (Prohibition of dedication) Act, 1982, and Andhra Pradesh Devdasi (Prohibition of dedication) Act, 1988. However, the tradition continues in certain regions of India, particularly the states of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.
It has sometimes been claimed that sacred prostitution was once practised by the Miko within traditional Shinto in Japan. However, the evidence suggests that their role was that of religious dancers and shamans.
During the feudal Kamakura period (1185–1333) when Japan was controlled by warring shōgun states:
The Miko was forced into a state of mendicancy as the shrines and temples that provided her with a livelihood fell into bankruptcy. Disassociated from a religious context, her performance moved further away from a religious milieu and more toward one of a non-ecclesiastical nature. The travelling Miko, known as the aruki Miko, became associated with prostitution.
During the Edo period (1603–1868), writes Groemer, "the organizational structures and arts practiced by female shamans in eastern Japan underwent significant transformations". Though in the Meiji period (1868–1912), many shamanistic practices were outlawed:
After 1867 the Meiji government's desire to create a form of state Shinto headed by the emperor—the shaman-in-chief of the nation—meant that Shinto needed to be segregated from both Buddhism and folk-religious beliefs. As a result, official discourse increasingly repeated negative views of Miko and their institutions.
There was an edict called Miko Kindanrei (巫女禁断令) enforced by security forces loyal to Imperial forces, forbidding all spiritual practices by miko, issued in 1873, by the Religious Affairs Department (教部).
The traditional practise of the Miko underwent significant transformation during the Meiji era, due to the government implementing the Shinbutsu bunri; which, among other things, drastically decreased the roles of the Miko, and modified Shinto beliefs until it became what is now colloquially referred to as State Shinto.
Much of our evidence for the religious practices of the Nahua (commonly referred to as Aztec) culture has been lost. Their own records were systematically destroyed during the Spanish Conquest and almost the only evidence we have for the practices of their religion is from hostile Spanish accounts. The Franciscan Spanish Friar Bernardino de Sahagún learned the Nahua language Nahuatl, and spent more than 50 years studying the culture. Nevertheless his account is full of moral attacks on Nahua practices, and potential confusion. Sahagún wrote of the ahuianime (“pleasure girls”) in highly hostile terms, as “an evil woman who finds pleasure in her body…[a] dissolute woman of debauched life”. He also wrote that they participated in religious festivals and rituals, as well as performing sexual acts as part of religious practice. This may be evidence for the existence of sacred prostitution in Mesoamerica, or it may be either confusion, or accusational polemic.
Xochiquetzal or “Precious Flower” was a goddess who was responsible for the skills of spinning, weaving, featherworking, painting, sculpting, and metalworking.  But Xochiquetzal was also a patroness of the sexual arts, revered by prostitutes and lovers alike. The ahuianime are said to have participated in the ceremonial rites of the goddess Toci. Ahuianime were also the attendants of deity impersonators destined for sacrifice, and their role in attending these deity impersonators is said to have included sexual relations. Sahagún claims that during the feast of Toxcatl an impersonator of Tezcatlipoca had “carnal relations” with a group of four women specially trained to represent members of the earth/fertility goddess complex, the leader of whom was identified as Xochiquetzal. During the time of Izcalli tlami an impersonator of the god Ixcocuahqui was cared for and eventually sacrificed. His guardian was an ahuianime, whose duties to care for the impersonator’s every need may also have involved sexual relations. In return this woman was then allowed to take for herself all of the man’s belongings after his sacrificial death.
The ahuianime was also said to have had a significant role in religious festivals. During festivals in the honour of the goddess brightly dressed ahuianime and hermaphrodites paraded through the streets. During the Ochpaniztli festival, a mock battle was staged between priestesses, female physicians and ahuianime. On the feast day of the Great Lords, in the month of Uey tecuilhuitl, the ahuianime and the maauiltia (“courtesans”) left the House of Song (cuicacalli) to dance with successful warriors and noblemen. After the ceremony, the masters of the warriors offered gifts to the ahuianime and their mistresses so that the most honoured warriors could take a dancer home for the night. This was strictly for one night only, and anyone who abused this privilege was punished and both woman and man expelled from their position, and the two would then be expected to marry. However Seler notes that the ahuianime were the “companions” of single warriors even outside of the festival. In another festival of the etzalqualiztli the ahuianime and warriors would dance from door to door asking for offerings of food. The ahuianime also travelled with the army as camp servants  and may even have served as warriors in their own right.
It is important to note that the ahuianime were not regular religious functionaries. Temple Priestesses were a separate group and they were carefully guarded to maintain strict vows of chastity.
Maya and Inca
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It has been argued that the Inca sometimes dedicated young boys as temple prostitutes. Allegedly the boys were dressed in girl's clothing, and chiefs and head men would have ritual sexual intercourse with them during religious ceremonies and on holy days.[page needed][page needed]
The conquistadores were horrified by the wide-spread acceptance of homosexuality, ephebophilia, pederasty, and pedophilia among Mesoamerican and South American peoples, and used torture, burning at the stake, mass beheadings, and other means to stamp it out both as a religious practice and social custom.[page needed]
Recent Western occurrences
In the 1970s and early 1980s, some religious cults practiced sacred prostitution as an instrument to recruit new converts. Among them was the alleged cult Children of God, also known as The Family, who called this practice "Flirty Fishing". They later abolished the practice due to the growing AIDS epidemic.
In Ventura County, California, Wilbur and Mary Ellen Tracy established their own temple, the Church Of The Most High Goddess, in the wake of what they described as a divine revelation. Sexual acts played a fundamental role in the church's sacred rites, which were performed by Mary Ellen Tracy herself in her assumed role of High Priestess. Local newspaper articles about the Neopagan church quickly got the attention of local law enforcement officials, and in April 1989, the Tracys' house was searched and the couple arrested on charges of pimping, pandering and prostitution. They were subsequently convicted in a trial in state court and sentenced to jail terms: Wilbur Tracy for 180 days plus a $1,000.00 fine; Mary Ellen Tracy for 90 days plus mandatory screening for STDs.
- Budin, S, The Myth of Sacred Prostitution in Antiquity, Cambridge University Press, 2008
- Beard, M. and Henderson, J., With This Body I Thee Worship: Sacred Prostitution in Antiquity, in Gender and the Body in the Ancient Mediterranean, ed. M. Wyke, 56–79, 1998
- Westenholz, Joan Goodnick, Tamar, Qĕdēšā, Qadištu, and Sacred Prostitution in Mesopotamia, Harvard Theological Review, 82:3 (July 1989), pp. 245-266
- Arnaud, Daniel, La prostitution sacrée en Mésopotamie, un mythe historique? RHR 183 (1973) 111–15
- Yamauchi, Edwin M., Cultic Prostitution, A Case Study in Cultural Diffusion, in A., Harry, Hoffner, , Jr., ed., Orient and Occident: Essays Presented to Cyrus H. Gordon on the Occasion of His Sixty-fifth Birthday (AOAT 22; Kevelaer: Butzon & Bercker, 1973) 213–22
- Herodotus, Histories 1.199, tr A.D. Godley (1920)
- Oden, Robert, The Bible Without Theology: The Theological Tradition and Alternatives to it, 1987
- Strabo. "Geographica; 6.2.6, 8.6.20, 12.3.36".
- Strabo. "Geographica; 11.14.16, 16.1.20".
- Eidinow, E. and Kindt, J., (eds), 2015, The Oxford Handbook of Ancient Greek Religion, Oxford, pp 18, 70
- Pindar, Fragment 122
- Claude Calame, "Entre rapports de parentê et relations civiques : Aphrodite l'Hêtaïre au banquet politique des hetaîroi", in Aux sources de la puissance. Sociabilitê et parentê, Rouen, p. 101-111
- Vinciane Pirenne-Delforge, "Something to do with Aphrodite: ta aphrodisia and the sacred," in D. Ogden (ed.), Blackwell Companion to Greek Religion, London, 2007, p. 311-323; Matthew Dillon, Girls and Women in Classical Greek Religion, London, 2002, p. 199-202; Vinciane Pirenne-Delforge, L'Aphrodite grecque, Kernos supplément 4 (1994).
- Pirenne-Delforge, Vinciane, Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2009.04.28, http://bmcr.brynmawr.edu/2009/2009-04-28.html
- Strabo. "Geographica". 8.6.20.
- Stephanie Budin, The Myth of Sacred Prostitution in Antiquity (Cambridge University Press, 2009); more briefly the case that there was no sacred prostitution in Greco-Roman Ephesus by S.M. Baugh (1999) http://www.etsjets.org/files/JETS-PDFs/42/42-3/42-3-pp443-460_JETS.pdf; see also the book review by Vinciane Pirenne-Delforge, Bryn Mawr Classical Review, April 28, 2009.
- Eusebius, Life of Constantine, 3.55, 
- J.G. Frazer, The Golden Bough, abridged edition (1922), Chapter 31: Adonis in Cyprus; see also the more extensive treatment in the 3rd edition of The Golden Bough, volumes 5 and 6 (published 1914). Frazer's argument and citations are reproduced in slightly clearer fashion by Fernando Henriques, Prostitution and Society: a study (3 vols., London : MacGibbon & Kee, 1962–1968), vol. I, ch. 1
- Fernando Henriques, Prostitution and Society: a study (3 vols., London : MacGibbon & Kee, 1962–1968), vol. I, ch. 1
- Arnaud, Daniel, “La prostitution sacrée en Mésopotamie, un mythe historique?” RHR 183 (1973) 111–15
- Assante, J. "The kar.kid/harimitu, "Prostitute or Single Woman? A Reconsideration of the Evidence". Ugarit Forschungen 30 (1998) pp. 5-9
- James Frazer (1922), The Golden Bough, 3e, Chapter 31: Adonis in Cyprus
- é-an-na = sanctuary ('house' + 'Heaven'[='An'] + genitive) [John Halloran's Sumerian Lexicon v. 3.0 – see link below]
- Modern-day Warka, Biblical Erech.
- John Day, "Does the Old Testament Refer to Sacred Prostitution and Did it Actually Exist in Ancient Israel?", in Biblical and Near Eastern Essays: Studies in Honour of Kevin J. Cathcart, eds. Carmel McCarthy & John F Healey (Continuum International Publishing, 2004), 2–21.
- Sweet, R. "A New Look at the 'Sacred Marriage' in Ancient Mesopotamia", in E. Robbins and S. Sandahl, eds., Corolla Torontonensis. Studies in Honour of Ronald Morton Smith (Toronto, 1994) 85–104.
- Assante, Julia 2003. "From Whores to Hierodules: the Historiographic Invention of Mesopotamian Female Sex Professionals", pp. 13–47 in Ancient Art and Its Historiography, edited A. A. Donahue and Mark D. Fullerton. Cambridge/New York: Cambridge University
- The Sacred Prostitute: Eternal Aspect of the Feminine By Nancy Qualls-Corbett
- Stephanie Lynn Budin, Jean MacIntosh Turfa (ed.), Women in Antiquity: Real Women across the Ancient World. Rewriting antiquity. London; New York: Routledge, (2016)
- Mayer Gruber, Hebrew Qedesha and Her Canaanite and Akkadian Cognates, Ugarit-Forshungen 18 (1986) 133-148
- Associated with the corresponding verb zanah. "Lexicon results for zanah (Strong's H2181)". Blue Letter Bible. Retrieved 5 April 2018. incorporating Strong's concordance (1890) and Gesenius's Lexicon (1857).
- "Lexicon results for qĕdeshah (Strong's H6948)". Blue Letter Bible. Retrieved 5 April 2018. incorporating Strong's concordance (1890) and Gesenius's Lexicon (1857). Also transliterated qĕdeshah, qedeshah, qědēšā ,qedashah, kadeshah, kadesha, qedesha, kdesha. A modern liturgical pronunciation would be k'deysha.
- Berlin, Adele, ed., The Oxford Dictionary of the Jewish Religion, ‘Qedeshah’, by David A Glatt-Gilad, Oxford University Press, 2011
- For example, see Genesis 38:15-24, Interlinear Bible
- Berlin, Adele, ed., The Oxford Dictionary of the Jewish Religion, 'Qedeshah', by David A Glatt-Gilad, Oxford University Press, 2011
- S. Tamar Kamionkowski, Gender Reversal and Cosmic Chaos: A Study in the Book of Ezekiel, 2003
- Lexicon results for kelev (Strong's H3611), incorporating Strong's Concordance (1890) and Gesenius's Lexicon (1857).
- S. N. Kramer, The Sacred Marriage Rite: Aspects of Faith, Myth and Ritual in Ancient Sumer, 1969.
- Frankfort, Henri, Kingship and the Gods: A Study of the Ancient Near Easter Religion as the Integration of Society and Nature, (1948)
- Nissinen, Martti and Uro, Risto, Sacred Marriages: The Divine-Human Sexual Metaphor from Sumer to Early Christianity, 2008
- Sweet, R. "A New Look at the 'Sacred Marriage' in Ancient Mesopotamia", in E. Robbins and S. Sandahl, eds., Corolla Torontonensis. Studies in Honour of Ronald Morton Smith (Toronto, 1994) 85–104.
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