Deep inside a Bronze Age child’s grave in the Republic of Khakassia in Siberia, archaeologists have discovered a fascinating haul of 4,500-year-old objects inside that were once the beloved toys of a prehistoric child, making these reportedly some of the oldest known children’s toys to be found to date.
One of these toys was constructed and carved using a piece of soapstone with eyes in the shape of almonds and completed with enormously plush eyebrows. Soapstone is known to be a rock with very pliable qualities which is perhaps not surprising as it is composed mainly of talc.
This particular 4,500-year-old doll had very “carefully worked out facial features,” according to the Institute of History of Material Culture’s Dr. Andrey Polyakov. The head of the doll has been measured at approximately five centimeters, as the Siberian Times reported.
While there have been other ancient dolls recovered from graves, most notably in Egypt, these were found to have been covered with various symbols, some of which were found to be reproductive, which means the odds are good that these dolls were not meant to have been actual toys from children, making the find of this particular soapstone doll all the more remarkable.
Also discovered at the Itkol II burial ground in Siberia was a carved animal which had a head that could easily be interpreted to be that of a dragon or some other storybook creature, as the Daily Mail noted. This head is believed to have been fashioned using either an animal horn or antler of some kind and was found with the 4,500-year-old Bronze Age doll.
Interestingly, Dr. Polyakov explained that these prehistoric toys would not have been reserved for a child belonging to the elite classes, as might have been expected, but that the grave belonged to that of a “common child,” who belonged to the group of Okunev people who lived in this region of Siberia at the time.
The latest discovery of these Bronze Age toys means that archaeologists can study these objects along with the many others that have also been discovered in the area over the years. One of these was a statuette of some kind of god, which was recovered from the water accidentally by a fisherman and may possibly have been used as some kind of toy rattle. As fisherman Nikolay Taraso admits, he was very close to tossing this figurine straight into the water again until he noticed what appeared to be some kind of carved face upon it.
“I was about to throw it back in the water, but at the last second I looked at it more closely, and I saw a face. I stopped and washed the thing in the river and realized it wasn’t a stone of an unusual shape, as I thought earlier, but a statuette.”
— doug moncur (@moncur_d) December 28, 2017
Also found in this region of Siberia only two years ago were eight other rattle-like toys next to the remains of a baby. These all had different figures carved into them and ranged from a boar to a bird.
With so many recent discoveries of Bronze Age toys in Siberia, including the most recent find of a 4,500-year-old doll and toys, archaeologists will continue studying this region in the hopes of discovering further artifacts of the Okunev people.