While prostitution has never been a solely urban phenomenon, throughout history it has been in towns and cities that prostitution has tended to be found, often in a multitude of different forms. This association between sex work and the city is, in a wider sense, indicative of the sexual diversity and freedom offered by the cultural complexity of urban centres as opposed to the more ‘traditional’ sexualities and moralities associated with the countryside. Often described as the ‘oldest profession’, the historical geography of urban sex work is difficult to document with any certainty. Indeed, as a marginal figure in pre-modern societies, prostitutes are only mentioned fleetingly in archival sources, and when they are, it is often hard to determine whether the individuals described as prostitutes would be regarded so according to contemporary definitions. This ‘humanitarian’ venture anticipated many of the technologies of social control that were to become exemplary in nineteenth century.