ancient toys

Greek Terracotta Pig Rattle, 6th-3rd Century BC

Possibly from Cyprus

A child’s toy in the shape of a pig, probably mold made and with a pebble sealed within. He has delightful applied eyes, nose, pointed ears, and curly tail and stands on four splayed feet. Holes drilled in top and bottom were probably put in place to prevent this little piggy from breaking in the kiln. It is thought that a toy like this was made for a toddler, and their sound was supposed to ward off evil spirits.


Archaeological Museum of Heraklion:

The “Draughtboard” (Ζατρίκιο)

A board game inlaid with ivory, blue glass and rock crystal, plated with gold and silver. Four large, conical ivory, game-pieces correspond to the circular areas of the “Draughtboard”. This is a particularly complex and luxurious artefact, which bears witness to the high standard of living in the palace, and the artistic capabilities of knossian workshops. Similar, simpler objects have been found in Egypt and the East.

Palace of Knossos (1700-1450 B.C) 

Toy horse, Greek, dated around 10BC.

Ancient Greek children had an assortment of toys to choose from, such as dolls, marbles, dice, and the yo-yo. Gender stereotypes, social interaction and role play could be reinforced through play. Monkeys, birds, dogs and cheetahs were also kept as pets.

The children normally spent their early childhood in the women’s quarters, and at the age of around 7, boys started going to school whilst the girls stayed at home to learn the women’s duties of weaving, cooking, and child-care. After the minimal schooling time, most boys from less wealthy families learned a trade, whilst the aristocratic boys continued their education.