These days, many of us are researching our genetic roots through Ancestry.com, 23 and Me and other genealogical sites. People want to know where they and everything else came from. With Valentine’s Day approaching I see hearts everywhere! So, I’m wondering where the heart shape, the symbol of love known all around the world, originated. As it turns out there are a number of theories, but no one knows for sure.
Some believe that the heart pictogram came from the shape of ivy leaves and their long entwining branches representing fidelity and everlasting love. According to the Netflix show, Sex Explained, the heart shape sprang from the Silphium seed, a species of giant fennel which grew close to the Greek colony of Cyrene. It was an herb used for its contraceptive properties. Scholars argue that Aristotle described the human heart as having 3 chambers with a dent in the middle so artists and scientists drew his description in medical texts. Another idea is that the heart shape portrays the female body and the Sumerians used a related symbol for the term “woman.”
Gale Godwin wrote the book Heart: A Personal Journey Through Its Myths and Meanings where she proclaims “heart lore is as old as humankind.” I heart that!