Ancient Origins Tour IRAQ

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Corn Husk Dolls. Source: Betty Sederquist/Adobe Stock

More Than Toys: The Five Oldest Dolls in History (Video)


Dolls are more than just toys, they can be artifacts of ancient civilizations, offering profound insights into the lives and beliefs of bygone eras. Among the oldest are Roman dolls, meticulously crafted from materials like bone, wood, or ivory, showcasing the idealized female form of their time with small breasts and wide hips. These dolls, often fully articulated and adorned with jewelry, served as companions and role models for young upper-class Roman girls, mirroring societal standards and values.

In contrast, Greek dolls, stemming from clay Grecian idols, transitioned into educational tools, teaching girls about clothing and household management through their intricately designed attire and accompanying accessories. Meanwhile, the legend of corn-husk dolls, rooted in Native American folklore, symbolizes humility and equality, with the absence of facial features reminding children of the dangers of vanity. Egyptian paddle dolls, unearthed from tombs, likely served both as toys for children and instruments for ritualistic ceremonies, evidenced by their intricate beadwork resembling musical instruments.

Finally, the enigmatic Dogū figurines from the Jōmon period, predominantly depicting female features with exaggerated proportions, provoke speculation about their significance, possibly tied to fertility rites or protective rituals. Each of these ancient dolls, with its unique craftsmanship and cultural context, provides a glimpse into the beliefs, values, and daily lives of ancient peoples.

Top image: Corn Husk Dolls. Source: Betty Sederquist/Adobe Stock  

By Robbie Mitchell

Robbie Mitchell's picture


I’m a graduate of History and Literature from The University of Manchester in England and a total history geek. Since a young age, I’ve been obsessed with history. The weirder the better. I spend my days working as a freelance... Read More

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