brief journey through the long history of self-pleasure

S. C.



A few years ago, in 2015 specifically, some Polish archaeologists were excavating in a latrine of a swordsmanship school in Gdańsk and unexpectedly found a “in excellent condition” sex toy dating back 250 years. The location and shape of this 18th century “Satisfyer” suggested that it was used for personal pleasure. Measuring 20 centimeters, built with bristle-filled leather and finished in a wooden point, this discovery was an “extraordinary find for people who investigate the history of erotica.” But it is almost a modern object, because the history of these objects has accompanied mankind almost forever.

In fact, physical representations of the phallus have existed for thousands of years. The oldest recovered artifact of this form was found in the Paleolithic. Because for thousands of years, phallic objects were used as a symbol to increase fertility and ward off evil spirits, but, also, their use as sexual aids has a very long history …

In Germany, in 2005, a 28,000-year-old stone phallus was found at the Hohle Fels site, which is recognized as the oldest known “sex toy” ever found. The significance of the find lay both in the scarcity of representations of male genitalia and in its extraordinary antiquity. “Female representations with very pronounced sexual attributes are numerous in many excavations, however those of male genitalia are extremely rare,” explained the project’s chief researcher, Professor Nicholas Conard.

Regarding the debate on whether this artifact was used for personal pleasure or for a religious purpose, Conard and researchers relied upon underlining its status as an erotic toy on the fact that its measurements (20 centimeters) were close to those of an erect penis, plus it was polished to a high degree. The phallus had to be rebuilt in 14 parts because it was found in very poor condition.

Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Chinese …

As “Ancients-Origin” recalls, historical references to sex toys go back millennia. Both Roman and Greek men and women are known to use phallic objects for pleasure. In “Lysistrata” (411 BC), Aristophanes talks about a woman’s mission to end the Peloponnesian war and writes that women argue about the use of sex toys to deny their husbands sex in an effort to stop the war.

And the Middle East, the historical records refer to Egyptians using resin coated camel feces, as firm as it is soft, as a sexual aid. In “The Arabian Nights” dildos are said to be made of intricately carved gold, silver, or ivory, “Ancients-Origins” also tells. And it is believed that the Greeks were the first to use leather or animal intestines to cover a sculpted penis, to make it appear more natural.

Also, for example, the one estimated as one of the first references to oral sex in history is included in an Egyptian myth and has to do with a clay penis. After the god Osiris was killed and dismembered by his brother Seth (the evil one), his wife and daughter traveled around the world collecting all the pieces of Osiris’s body. Not finding his manly member, his wife sculpted a penis in claya, attached him to her body and brought him back to life through fellatio. And one of the strangest objects found by ancient Egyptian archaeologists is a primitive dildo made from the remains of a sperm whale penis. It is also said that Cleopatra was the inventor of the first vibrator in history, but there is really no historical evidence to support it.

And let’s fly over the past of China. In 2017, they were discovered during the excavation of some tombs belonging to the Han dynasty (which spans from 206 BC to 220 AD), various dildos made of bronze and also in jade. As can be seen, these erotic toys were found in the graves of people belonging to royalty and nobility.

He also recalls “Ancients-Origins” that phallic objects were not only used for sexual pleasure. In ancient Greece, “hysteria” (caused insomnia, mental instability, etc.) was believed to be a medical condition caused by the lack of a “hysterical paroxysm” (orgasm). Hippocrates then prescribed women to use sex toys made of stone or wood to prevent this disease. This belief that women could suffer from “hysteria” even survived into the early 20th century.

And when excavations began in the ancient Roman city of Pompeii in the 18th century, the site turned out to be full of penises. There was phalluses drawn, sculpted and carved on the lintels, in the bread ovens, carved in the road, and members with bells that sounded when the door was opened or the wind stirred. Even penises with wings. This last icon, the penis bird, is, for the historian Mary Beard, a mixture of joke and shameless celebration.

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