Is This The World’s Oldest Sex Toy?
We might think that sex toys are a modern phenomenon, but it seems that the Romans, as usual, were already way ahead of the curve.
Sky News recently reported that a 6.5 wooden object that bears a remarkable resemblance to a penis has been reclassified as a sex toy, after rather bafflingly being labelled as a darning needle.
The phallic wooden object was uncovered at a dig at the Vindolanda Roman Fort near Hexham in Northumberland in 1992. At the time, archaeologists thought it was possibly a shoe making tool as it was found with shoes and leather offcuts. Now, experts from Newcastle University and University College Dublin have revised the opinion.
Dr Rob Collins of Newcastle University said: “The size of the phallus and the fact that it was carved from wood raises a number of questions to its use in antiquity.”
He added: “We cannot be certain of its intended use, in contrast to most other phallic objects that make symbolic use of that shape for a clear function, like a good luck charm. We know that the ancient Romans and Greeks used sexual implements – this object from Vindolanda could be an example of one.”
It is not unusual to find erotic imagery and phallic symbols in art and literature from the Roman era, so it is likely that sex toys were also used. However the Vindolanda phallus is thought to be the earliest surviving example.
The idea of using objects to aid sexual pleasure is definitely not new. In fact, during the 19th century when it is commonly believed that attitudes to female sexuality were extremely oppressive, the first vibrating massage tools were used to treat ‘hysteria’ in women.
By the early 20th century, ‘personal massagers’ were available as portable healthcare devices and purchased without any shame or embarrassment. It was only towards the mid-20th century that sex aids unfortunately became a top shelf item, only available at seedy back street shops with blacked out windows.
Thankfully today, it is very easy to buy a vibrator online and there are all manner of shapes and sizes to choose from. The stigma around using sex toys is falling away and they are now regarded as a fun way to spice up your sex life. They are also a great way to get some feel-good hormones buzzing to create an overall sense of mental and physical wellbeing.
Rather intriguingly, the archaeologists have an alternative theory that the wooden object may have been used as a pestle to grind medicinal herbs or cosmetic ingredients. The phallic shape may have been deliberate because of a belief that it would transfer magical properties to the ingredients. Hmmmmm….
Another theory is that the phallus could have been used as a good luck charm or to ward off evil spirits in a more superstitious era. If you feel intrigued enough to view this unique historic sex object yourself, it is currently on display at the Vindolanda Trust museum in Northumberland.