(BBC) According to a study, kissing during the Bronze Age may have contributed to the development of cold sores.
The HSV-1 strain of the herpes virus, according to researchers at the University of Cambridge, emerged amid massive migrations from Eurasia to Europe around 5,000 years ago.
Around 3.7 billion people are currently infected by the virus worldwide.
To better understand how viruses adapt, researchers have been examining DNA samples from tens of thousands of years ago.
The study discovered that the migration brought about new cultural activities like kissing and denser populations, which facilitated transmission.
The study team claimed to have found and sequenced the virus’s prehistoric genomes for the first time.
The researchers identified four samples from human remains dating back more than 1,000 years, but the genetic information for herpes previously only reached as far as 1925.
The researchers was able to create an approximate timeline of the virus’ evolution from the samples.
Researchers collected the samples for the study by removing viral DNA from the roots of four people’s teeth.
Researchers claim that the earliest documented instance of kissing is from a South Asian Bronze Age book. Facial herpes is transferred orally.
In an effort to stop the transmission of disease, the Roman Emperor Tiberius tried to outlaw kissing at official gatherings centuries later. According to academics, this may have been due to herpes.
Dr Christiana Scheib, research fellow at St John’s College, Cambridge, and head of the ancient DNA lab at Tartu University, said: “Every primate species has a form of herpes, so we assume it has been with us since our own species left Africa.
“However, something happened around 5,000 years ago that allowed one strain of herpes to overtake all others, possibly an increase in transmissions, which could have been linked to kissing.”