Dildos in the Archaeological and Historic Record Part I – Ice Age and the Greeks

I have often times been surprised to discover that bits of technology I thought were modern have roots going back hundreds or even thousands of years. Sometimes human technology goes back so far that it seems to say something fundamental about how humans have used tools and technology to achieve what they want. I can think of no better example than the dildo, which goes all the way back to before the end of the last Ice Age.

Ice Age Dildos

laun Perhaps you’ve heard of this little fellow. Measuring about 7 1/2 inches long and about  1.1 inches wide (hmm…) this could very well be the most famous sex toy around. Look, it’s even on the BBC! It was found about 4 years ago at a site in Germany and has been dated to around 28,000 years ago. 28,000!!! In the BBC article poor Professor Nicholas Conrad from Tubingen University makes a valiant effort to say that “In addition to being a symbolic representation of male genitalia, it was also at times used for knapping flints… [T]here are some areas where it has some very typical scars from that…” But he has to include that the “Etched rings” and “highly polished” nature makes it pretty obvious what this was primarily used for. But there is a serious hesitation on the part of many Archaeologists to admit just what they are finding in these sites, and often use the term “Ice Age Batons.” As one “anonymous” archaeologist (on Wikipedia, no less) put it “Looking at the size, shape, and—some cases—explicit symbolism of the ice age batons, it seems disingenuous to avoid the most obvious and straightforward interpretation. But it has been avoided.” Perhaps, as Cracked.com put it, no one wants to be known as “that guy that keeps discovering dildos–you know, Indiana Dongs.”

But this is far from the only period in history that is rife with artificial cock…

Greek Dildos

Did the Greeks ever seem to love dildos… they put pictures of women using them on pottery (just check out thatgrieks picture!) and talked about them constantly in Greek Comedies (of course in the Comedies! The more things change…). They called them olishoi, a word derived from the verb “to glide” or “to slip.” Aristophanes classic “Lysistrata”  is one of the best examples of this. The title character is absolutely furious over the seemingly never-ending Peloponneisian War, in particular over the lack of men to satisfy the urges of her fellow females. (Note: the following is from a fantastic translation by George Theodoridis that you can find for free at this link. It’s fucking awesome, and actually takes way less liberty with the original Greek than you would believe. If they only taught this in high school, history and drama would be the most popular courses in the entire school!)

Lysistrata – Tell me, please, all of you:  Do you not miss your husband’s pricks?  Your sons’ father?  I mean while he’s away at war? I know very well that all of you have your husband away at the moment.  Not one of them is here with you. Isn’t that so?

Caloniki – Mine, in fact, the poor bastard, has been in Thrace for the last five months.  Guarding that idiot of a general, Eucrates.

Myrrhini – And mine, seven months at Pylos.

Lampito – And if mine ever manages to steal away for a quickie, they rush over, nab him by the handle and quickly whisk him away back to the front!

Lysistrata – And so, girls, when fucking time comes… not the faintest whiff of it anywhere, right? From the time those Milesians betrayed us, we can’t even find our eight-fingered leather dildos. At least they’d serve as a sort of flesh-replacement for our poor cunts… So, then! Would you like me to find some mechanism by which we could end this war?

According to the book Sexuality in Greek and Roman Society by Mauguerite Johnson and Terry Ryan “eight-fingered equates to about 5 or 6 inches (15cm), small in comparison to vase representations. The scarcity is so acute that she has not even seen a little one…”

Another writer that made extensive use of dildo imagery in his Comedies was Herodas, whose Mimes (not the bastards with the painted faces, but a shortened form of Mimiaboi, a type of play that took scenes from everyday life and was full of the racy lines that made people like Aristophanes so popular) got quite a bit of mileage out of dildo jokes:

from Mime VI .17-19, 58-79:

(Note: during this time, dildos were secretly made on the side by cobblers. Cobblers that made especially good product were in high demand, and their names jealously guarded by satisfied customers. In this bit Metro is attempting to get her girlfriend Coritto  to give her the name of her favorite craftsman…)

Metro – I beg you, don’t lie,

dear Coritto: who was the man who stitched for you

this bright red dildo?

Coritto– I don’t know if [Cerdon] is from Chios or Erythrae;

bald, small – you’d call him a right ‘Mr. Tradesman.’

You’d think you’re seeing the handiwork of Athena herself, not


I – For he arrived bringing two, Metro-

at the sight of them my eyes bulged;

Men can’t make their rods as rigid as this-

We are alone and can be frank- and not only that,

these are as soft as sleep; as the little leather straps

are as soft as wool, not like leather straps at all. A kinder cobbler

to a woman you’ll not find- even by putting out.

Metro– Why then did you not take the other as well?

Coritto – What didn’t I do, Metro?

What sort of means of persuasion did I not apply

to him? Kissing him, stroking his bald head,

pouring out sweet drink for him, calling him by a pet name,

giving him all but my body to enjoy.

Metro– If he had asked even that, you ought to have given it.

Part II coming soon…


~ by herodotuswept on June 24, 2009.

4 Responses to “Dildos in the Archaeological and Historic Record Part I – Ice Age and the Greeks”

  1. Yes, please. Part two. I just finished reading “Bonk The curious coupling of science and sex.” By Mary Roach. Great read if you love the science behind anything. Of course, it took a week or two to stop analyzing my porn and just appreciate it for the smut that it is.

  2. Reblogged this on rhavensfyre authors of lesbian fiction and commented:
    I love this, ancient dildos in history…and literature…and obviously the strap on type.

  3. hi! I was wondering if you had any research on use of dildos in native american history?? I have heard this is true, but I can’t find any info?

  4. […] to dildos and depictions of them in art dating back to ancient Greece; they were apparently a popular subject in Greek comedy. So far from being some kind of post-Freudian creation, dildos are something human […]

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