Stone Age Dildo Found in Sweden

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Motala in Östergötland has been recognised in recent years as one of the richest Mesolithic sites in Scandinavia north of the current and former Danish provinces. Excavations in waterlogged sediment along River Motala ström have produced great numbers of bone and wood objects that have rarely been preserved elsewhere. Most are harpoon and leister points, but now a bone dildo (a boner?) has joined the growing collection. Measuring twelve by two centimetres, its size is perhaps not very impressive, and there are many non-dildoish uses for which it may have been intended. But without doubt anyone alive at the time of its making would have seen the penile similarities just as easily as we do today. If it is actually a pressure-flaker for fine flint knapping, then this would tell us something about how such work was conceptualised in terms of gender.

Also check out the photo gallery of recently found bone points from the site.

Thanks to my phallic friend Roger for the heads-up.

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Comments

  1. #1 Deborah
    July 15, 2010

    Yeah, it probably means that pressure flaking was women’s work!

  2. #2 Martin R
    July 15, 2010

    Before that lady started using her dildo for flint knapping, it probably had a lot more length, girth and heft.

  3. #3 Phillip IV
    July 15, 2010

    If it is actually a pressure-flaker for fine flint knapping, then this would tell us something about how such work was conceptualised in terms of gender.

    The third alternative being that it was a dildo, but was also being used for flint knapping – because that was easier to explain to the owner’s husband. (In the Bronze Age, the invention of the sock drawer made such pretenses unnecessary.)

  4. #4 Jarryd
    July 15, 2010

    ^ From the guy who brought you Time cube.

  5. #5 ringo
    July 15, 2010

    The curve at the non-business end looks like a handle to be leaned on. I’m guessing it’s a dibble – used to punch a hole in the ground in which a seed (or whatever) would then be planted.

    Sympathetic magic?

  6. #6 ranggaw0636
    July 15, 2010

    it’s look like a tool my mother used to make chilly

  7. #7 Cynic View
    July 16, 2010

    @dmab

    Somebody’s mom should have used a dildo instead.

  8. #8 Murfomurf
    July 16, 2010

    It certainly looks like a tool to me!

  9. #9 Martin R
    July 16, 2010

    I’m guessing it’s a dibble – used to punch a hole in the ground in which a seed (or whatever) would then be planted.
    *confused* Why would anyone need a tool for that? I use my penis.

  10. #10 Sandgroper
    July 16, 2010

    I would go with it being a dibbling stick, it looks perfect for the purpose, and with suitable magical properties, except (Martin please correct me) I think there was no agriculture there in the Mesolithic (by definition)???

  11. #11 Martin R
    July 16, 2010

    You’re right as usual. The appearance of agriculture defines the end of the Mesolithic.

  12. #12 ranggaw0636
    July 16, 2010

    “*confused* Why would anyone need a tool for that? I use my penis.”
    there is no one, could have erection all day long martin

  13. #13 Martin R
    July 16, 2010

    Of course not, then I would have to stand on my hands because it pointed the wrong way. To make a deep hole in the ground, I simply drop the thing knob-first in front of me. THUNK.

  14. #14 eleanora.
    July 16, 2010

    Martin:”Why would anyone need a tool for that? I use my penis.”
    Two answers to that.
    1. I thought a penis was a tool.
    2. Women probably did a lot of the planting, and a clitoris just can’t get the same reach as a penis.
    3. (Yes, I know I said 2)Do you have to stand on your head to dibble?

  15. #15 Martin R
    July 16, 2010

    It does get a little awkward when the thing sinks a foot into the ground from its own massive weight and I end up tethered to the potato patch.

  16. #16 Pierce R. Butler
    July 16, 2010

    Or perhaps the Swedes of that era were not so Grosstiftung* (sorry, that’s how translate.google’s German-to-Swedish mode outputs “Grosstiftung”, same as its German-to_English mode), and so that’s what the local, ah, orifices were accustomed to.

    IANAFK (IANA Flint-Knapper – nor an archaeologist), but wouldn’t there be unambiguous residual scratches or the like on any implement which had been used for making spear points or fish hooks or whatever, discernibly different from the marks left by even the toughest, um, other use implied above?

    *excepting the thralls, no doubt.

  17. #17 Martin R
    July 16, 2010

    Indeed, micro wear analysis is the way to go here. The find has been out of the mud only for a couple of days.

    In order to do micro wear analysis, you need reference data: objects made of the same material with the same kind of tools that have then been subject to the various kinds of use such a thing might concievably have seen…

  18. #18 ndrew
    July 16, 2010

    oops..
    it had existed a long time ago..

  19. #19 daedalus2u
    July 16, 2010

    I think the obvious thing to do is make modern replicas, use them in various ways, and look for characteristic wear marks.

    I would be very interested to know if there are any residues of nitrated proteins, or DNA of nitrifying bacteria. It does look slightly yellowish, nitrated proteins appear yellow due to nitrotyrosine.

    In ancient Egypt, women used pessaries of crocodile dung, and also mixed them with fermented milk. For precisely what is unknown because the papyrus describing the technique has a hole in it. My research has indicated that crocodile dung was very likely a very powerful NO source due to ammonia oxidizing bacteria, and could well have been used as a sexual aid.

    If this was used as a dildo, then it may have residues of lactate. The vagina is made acid by lactic acid produced by resident flora. If it was used as a dildo, it may have picked up ammonia oxidizing bacteria, which would make it into a source of NO, and perhaps a dildo of special activity (erectile tissue is made erect via the action of NO). Ammonia oxidizing bacteria are known to colonize stone.

  20. #20 Chris' Wills
    July 17, 2010

    Could be an early pre-cursor of a Dirk
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dirk
    The rounded head of the handle is fairly common

    Dibber is a more obvious solution, they don’t all have fancy T or spade like handles.
    http://aroundthewoods.com/woodturningprojectdibber1.html

  21. #21 ranggaw0636
    July 19, 2010

    I think the obvious thing to do is make modern replicas, use them in various ways, and look for characteristic wear marks.

    So, in what way you suggest we try it ?

  22. #22 Stefani
    July 20, 2010

    It looks like a strap-on dildo. There is a groove at the base which rope could be fastened to and then tied around the waist/hips/legs. The base is a bit curved which could provide clitoral stimulation to the wearer.

  23. #23 ranggaw0636
    July 20, 2010

    It looks like a strap-on dildo. There is a groove at the base which rope could be fastened to and then tied around the waist/hips/legs. The base is a bit curved which could provide clitoral stimulation to the wearer.

    Hmmm, you have a good point there

  24. #24 Ed
    July 20, 2010

    protein residue analysis?

  25. #25 Bill
    July 21, 2010

    To me it looks like a tool that is used to make fishing nets. The groove in the side is used to hold the filament in place against the thumb while it is threaded through to create a knot and is somewhat still in use to this day.

    Its unlikely to be a sex toy for several reasons. It looks circumcised / Its not wide enough / to pointed at the other end / stone phallic shapes were most often used in religious ceremonies but were almost never a stand alone object. I can come up with more reasons.

    The net this would create would most likely span the width of a river that uses wood as an anchor point at the top. The pointed end would be used to create or repair breaks in the net while the blunt end would be used to secure the net to the wooden posts that would go across the river.

    Thats just my 2 cents worth.

  26. #26 Billy
    July 21, 2010

    This items resembles a circumcised penis, a practice that may not have be used in Scandinavia at the time of it’s construction.

  27. #27 Martin R
    July 21, 2010

    Actually, to my knowledge this find is the single piece of evidence we have from the area if we want to answer the question “Were men/boys often circumcised in the Late Mesolithic?”. It’s certainly not conclusive evidence, but it’s better than nothing.

  28. #28 dsaf
    July 21, 2010

    Circumsized and uncircumsized penises look much the same when erect. The foreskin should retract over the glans. Otherwise, you’re not (getting him) hard enough.

  29. #29 jljk
    July 21, 2010

    leave it to the Swedish!

  30. #30 guido
    July 22, 2010

    Of course it is not a circumcised dildo!!!!! That would be sooo immoral !!! It was certainly meant to be used to soften and smooth reindeer skins while curing them ;-)

    Whatever, this is heady stuff :-))))

  31. #31 Chris Travers
    July 22, 2010

    Instead of a dibber (since no agriculture), what about using it to dig up bulbs and roots close to the surface as part of foraging activities?

  32. #32 Martin R
    July 22, 2010

    I think that thing would be pretty useless for digging. And it was found in river sediment along with loads of fishing equipment.

  33. #33 Tristán White
    July 22, 2010

    Yes, I’m sure it’s a dildo. It’s not the first time such an item has been unearthed. A few years ago this one http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/4713323.stm was unearthed, in Germany, and that’s 28,000 years old.

  34. #34 Nicholas
    July 23, 2010

    The posting says it’s a bone dildo. I’ve read elsewhere it’s made of antler.
    As the flint knappers among us know, shaped antler is an excellent pressure flaker.

  35. #35 Martin R
    July 23, 2010

    I believe that few archaeologists can tell bone from antler by eye. I can’t.

  36. #36 B Nielsen
    July 24, 2010

    Re . Thanks to my phallic friend Roger for the heads-up.

    Great sense of homour ! :-))

  37. #37 Akhôrahil
    July 25, 2010

    Looks like this became world news – you’re even mentioned on CBS!

    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-501465_162-20011242-501465.html

  38. #38 Martin R
    July 25, 2010

    Haha, yeah, this is clearly the intellectual level we should aim for. (-;

  39. #39 kevin
    September 11, 2010

    The Swedes are natural multi-taskers, they always have been in order to survive with limited resources. This device could have mended fishing nets in the morning, chipped a few flint arrowheads in the afternoon and strapped on to the owners beautiful wife’s crotch in the evening. I’m sure this was a very valuable tool for it’s time.

  40. #40 martin
    November 18, 2010

    I have an object like this, which is made of stone. It has a hole in the base about the diameter of a pencil. I found it on the Eastern Shore MD area back around 1991, in area that had just been excavated for a construction site.

  41. #41 Alexa
    June 29, 2011

    What a dildo, this is a tool for fishing activities.
    How do you know it is made of antler’s bone, are you an Osteologist, BTW?
    Please, do not mix up Archaeology and Present.

  42. #42 Monado, FCD
    July 3, 2011

    If it is a tool for weaving or repairing nets, then the knob at the end is explained: it would help to keep threads on the tool. So that would be, basically, a splicing implement.

    Given the lack of sanitation in those days, anyone using a tool for masturbation would probably die of vaginal infection. Scientists just have dirty minds. Hands were made before dildos!

  43. #43 Ken
    September 30, 2011

    We’ve found quite a number of stone age dildos here in the US. Many are currently on exhibition running for the POTUS on the Republican side.