London, April 26 : An archaeologist at University College London has suggested that branding products with images of macho men and curvy women first emerged in ancient Mesopotamia.
David Wengrow claims that bottle stops used 5000 years ago in ancient Mesopotamia, the birthplace of cities and writing, were stamped with symbols that marked them out as the earliest evidence of branded goods.
Wengrow believes that they were promotional logos, along the lines of those used by Microsoft and Nike.
He said that around 8000 years ago, village-dwelling Mesopotamians started making personalised stone seals, which they pressed into the caps and stoppers used to seal food and drink.
Originally these marked commodities would have been traded directly with neighbours and travellers, reports New Scientist magazine.
But they turned into brands when urbanisation began in Mesopotamia - a little over 5000 years ago - when traders encountered more strangers and city residents increasingly had to deal with products of uncertain origin.
Wengrow said the symbols in caps and stoppers came to play an important role in telling people about the quality and origins of products such as oils and wine.
When a traveller saw a familiar logo, that provided him with key reassurance about the provenance and the quality of what he was buying.
Many stoppers have been found in the ancient city of Uruk, now in southern Iraq, where some 20,000 people lived 5000 years ago.
The symbols impressed on their surfaces are the first images in human history to be mechanically mass produced, said Wengrow, referring to how the logo was shaped on a piece of stone pushed into wet clay in "urban temple-factories."