Was Circumcision Common in Ancient Times?

Circumcision, the surgical removal of the foreskin of the penis, is a practice that has been around for thousands of years. It is still a common practice in many parts of the world today, but was it just as common in ancient times? Let’s explore this topic further.

Circumcision in Ancient Times

The history of circumcision dates back to ancient times. The earliest evidence of circumcision can be traced back to ancient Egypt, where it was performed as a religious ritual. The Egyptians believed that circumcision was a symbol of purity and cleanliness, and it was often performed on young boys as a rite of passage.

Biblical References

Circumcision is also mentioned several times in the Bible. In the Old Testament, God commands Abraham to circumcise himself and all the males in his household as a sign of their covenant with God. This practice continued throughout Jewish culture and is still practiced by many Jews today.

Other Ancient Civilizations

Circumcision was also practiced by other ancient civilizations such as the Greeks and Romans. In Greek culture, circumcision was often performed on athletes to prevent injury during competition. The Romans also practiced circumcision, although it was less common than in other cultures.

The Decline of Circumcision

While circumcision remained popular throughout much of history, it began to decline in popularity during the Middle Ages. Many Christian groups viewed circumcision as a pagan practice and discouraged its use. As Christianity spread throughout Europe, circumcision became less common.

Modern Times

Today, circumcision remains a controversial topic. While some cultures continue to practice circumcision for religious or cultural reasons, others view it as an unnecessary surgical procedure. In some cases, medical professionals may recommend circumcision for health reasons such as preventing infections or reducing the risk of sexually transmitted diseases.

  • According to the World Health Organization, approximately 30% of males worldwide are circumcised.
  • In the United States, circumcision rates have declined in recent years. In 2010, the American Academy of Pediatrics stated that the health benefits of circumcision outweighed the risks, but did not recommend routine circumcision for all newborn boys.


While circumcision has been practiced for thousands of years, its popularity has varied throughout history. Today, it remains a controversial topic with strong opinions on both sides. Whether or not to circumcise is a personal decision that should be made after careful consideration of both cultural and medical factors.