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Ancient Roman dolls

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These dolls found in tombs of young girls give some insight into the lives of a young elite female.

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Over 500 objects excavated from the Roman Empire have been identified as dolls, primarily girls’ playthings, and over a dozen have been buried in tombs of young girls.

Dolansky surveys eighteen dolls discovered in modern-day Italy, Spain, Switzerland, and Egypt. Made from bone, ivory, or cloth, the dolls range in length from 15 to 30 centimeters and resemble upper-class adult women, with molded breasts and delineated genitalia.

One ivory figure buried with an eight-year-old girl in the second century mimicked the hairstyle of Faustina the Younger, the wife of Marcus Aurelius, who was known for her imperial charity toward lower-class girls in the city of Rome.

The doll is made of dark ivory, which has a grain similar to that of wood. The exquisite details on the doll’s pretty face, styled hair, and rounded hips show both the carver’s skill and the beauty ideals of the era.

Articulated doll side view






Summary: A society will impart its culture and expectations to younger generations by formal education, but also thru game and play.



guy also known as gaius



Edited by guy

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The use of dolls seems quite natural to human beings. I'm not so sure that society teaches its youngsters via such media, at least not conciously, but children naturally learn by acting out adult roles to a degree. Watch any gregarious mammal species - the male young always play fight.

I remember many years ago walking along an old railway embankment and spotting movement on the south side slope. It was a bunch of fox cubs, playing in the sun outside the set, probably their first adventures outside. They saw me and stopped, curious, not sure of what to do. Eventually instinct got the better of them and they went underground. The second time I saw them they scarpered immediately. The third time, and the last, was following mother on a hunting trip to the nearby farm.

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