A Brief History Of Toys
While ancient people certainly didn’t have many of the basic conveniences that we have today, they were equally prone as modern people, to learning curves in their formative years, and boredom. Art and novelty were likely to have been a part of human life since time immemorial, not merely a sign of developed times.
Archaeologists discovered a figurine of a miniature horse toy on wheels, in a tomb dated 900 B.C. It remains on display at the Kerameikos Archaeological Museum in Athens. It’s not so far-fetched to consider that it might have been a child’s toy. Childhood may be a relatively new social norm, but as far back as Ancient Greece, there have been records of young girls leaving their toys at the temple of Artemis upon marriage. This sacrifice of their toys symbolized their willingness to leave their childhood behind and enter adulthood.
Early toys would have been made from natural materials, even have been found objects. Stones and shells could be used as counters, pieces, or jacks. Sudarshan Khanna, Professor at the National Institute of Design, looked to traditional Indian toys that were constructed out of card paper or flexible reeds. These traditional toys designs would often be simple enough that children could make it themselves, for example by taking a rubber tree plant seed and leaving it on an anthill for the ants to eat the seed’s fleshy inside. The construction could still be remarkably sophisticated, to continue the example of using the now hollowed-out rubber tree seed as a spool for launching a pull-string activated, helicopter-like wing.
Not only would the toys’ construction be sophisticated, but their design would be as well. A set of jointed crisscrossing sticks, would provide both the extending scissor-spring action of an accordion, and have a serpent’s head carved at one end. Such a toy effectively mimics a venomous snake, striking at its prey.
Toys have developed alongside all of our civilization’s developments: the Industrial Revolution in the 1800’s brought mass-production of toys, to have their enjoyment shared by the masses. The invention of plastic, and the perfection of dying and coloring agents, would then be used to produce hardier and more attractive toys in the 1950’s. Battery powered electronic toys then took to the market, including hand-held gaming consoles such as Nintendo’s Game Boy in the 1990’s and the digital pet Tamagotchi.
Toy makers as well as owners continue to enjoy revolutionary new advancements in the toy design and production industry. As long as a true and detailed history might be, it is clear that toys will have an equally long and enjoyable future.
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