Surrogacy has been a boon to couples who are not being able to have a child of their own. Though, its gaining popularity in the recent years, a recent research hints that the idea of surrogacy was some 4,000 years back.

In Turkey, a 4,000-year-old marriage contract was found which contains the first known mention of infertility and surrogacy. The agreement which was carved onto a clay tablet said that if a couple cannot produce a child within two years of marriage, a female slave can be used as a surrogate, Daily Mail reported.

Professor Ahmet Berkız Turp, the lead researcher from Turkey's Harran University said: "The female slave would be freed after giving birth to the first male baby, ensuring that the family is not left without a child."

The archaeologists found the tablet in the country's central Kayseri province. It is now on display at the Istanbul Archaeology Museum.

Representational ImageCreative Commons

The Assyrian contract was written in the wedge-shaped cuneiform script. It shows that the hired slave, known as a 'hierodule' would be freed after the birth of the first boy.

The results of the research have been published in the journal Gynecological Endocrinology.

"The first mention about infertility and surrogacy is discovered on a 4000-year-old clay tablet of marriage contract belonging to the Assyrian period exhibited at Istanbul Archeology Museum in Turkey," the abstract says. 

The Assyrian Empire was the complicated Mesopotamian civilization dating back to 25th century BC. Like other Mesopotamian groups such as Babylon and the Sumerian cities, the Assyrian Empire was also one of the oldest civilizations in world history.

According to some scholars, Mesopotamia is the 'place where history began' because a significant part of our knowledge about early human societies come from these tablets.