A 2,000-year-old wooden object initially thought to be a darning tool has been reassessed by archaeologists – who believe it may have been used as a sex toy in Roman times.
The 6.5 inch wooden object is smooth at both ends – one of the only clues experts had about what it might have been used for, Dr Rob Collins told Sky News.
Dr Collins is a senior lecturer in archaeology at Newcastle University and worked alongside Dr Rob Sands from University College Dublin on analysing the object.
“The question we found ourselves asking is what sort of object shaped like a phallus would have greater wear at both ends than in the middle?” Dr Collins said.
One possible answer? A dildo.
Phallic imagery is “all over the place in the Roman world”, Dr Collins said, and was commonly believed to protect against bad luck.
Art and literature from the time also reveal Romans used dildos.
But no life-size examples have been found before now.
The phallus was found in a ditch in 1992 at Vindolanda, a Roman fort south of Hadrian’s wall, among thousands of other wooden objects, shoes, dress accessories and leather off-cuts.
It was initially classified as a darning tool. Dr Collins said that was likely because of the volume of items that had been found at Vindolanda and the pressure to conserve them before they started to decompose.
But when he re-examined the object it was “pretty clear right away” that it was a phallus.
“It looks like a d***,” he said.