From wooden toys
to the latest technologic tools, toys have always accompanied children from all over the world during their growth, and although types of games and toys have developed and in some cases changed a lot with the passing of time, what has not changed is the need that children have to play.
Thanks to ancient archaeological finds and written texts, we know that children were used to spend part of their time with various types of toys even in ancient civilizations, like the Egyptians to the Sumerians. Ninepins, for example, were already known in the 4th century B.C., and it is amazing that these objects have been able to go over centuries and survive until now. But ninepins are not the only toys that contemporary children have in common with their forefathers: dolls, for example, which still belong to little girls' favorite toys, were already widespread a long time ago, although they were different from nowadays. The first dolls that we know something about were used in Egypt in 2000 B.C.; they were wood, ivory or clay objects, which were symbolically given to deities when their owners became adult. The first doll factories were born in Germany, in Nuremberg, many centuries after that, more precisely in the 15th century, then also various accessories for dolls began to be produced. The most famous doll, Barbie, was born a long time after that, in 1959, while the first mechanical dolls, which could move eyes and produce sounds, were launched on the English market in 1701.
Like dolls for the Egyptians, in the same way toys had a sort of symbolic meaning for many other civilizations of the past, and for this reason toys were given to children in special moments: during the Saturnalia in Rome and during the Anthesteria in Greece, for example. With the passing of time toys became more and more important also for another reason, i.e. because they could be used to define the future social roles of girls and boys: playing with toy soldiers boys became more acquainted to war, while girls prepared themselves to take care of their future children playing with dolls.
Speaking about the developments of toys in history, let's jump to the 16th and the 17th centuries, when physical games like skipping or capture the flag became very popular, while in the 19th century, also due to the development of the industrial production, toys began to be mass produced. Throughout the 20th century, notably after the second world war, new materials like celluloid and plastic began to be used, and this certainly had some consequences also in the production of toys, especially of dolls.
Nowadays children certainly have many more toys to have fun and spend their time with, toys that can be easily found not only in specialized shops but also in stationery shops, for example, next to pens, notebooks and other objects that are not toys, but which are made in a way that they can catch the children's attention and make everything similar to a game. Speaking about modern games and toys we cannot leave out videogames and things like that, which have become more and more popular in the last decades also thanks to the numberless and fast developments that have occurred in the fields of technology and electronics.
However, something has not changed, and this is the close link between childhood and play, an ancestral link that remains an essential feature of our lives.
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