Comparing Mesopotamian and Greek ideas about menstruation teaches a fundamental insight: medical notions concerning the female body and its physiology are not only culture-specific. They reveal a lot about cultural constructions of gender and male-female relations, but they are also linked with more general ideas about human nature and social order.
The second central insight from this comparison is that different cultures ascribe quite differing meanings and evaluations to menstrual blood. Neither is menstruation universally regarded as a regular process essential to women’s health and bodies, nor is menstrual blood always and everywhere feared as polluting or dangerous.
Unravelling the significance of ancient medical concepts, such as those relating to “female blood” in Mesopotamia, requires a nuanced reading and contextual analysis of the textual evidence, which prompts a revision of some current conclusions regarding Babylonian views of menstruation.