A Penetrating History of Dildos

We tend to view dildos as a modern sex aid but in actual fact, it is the oldest known sex toy in human history. Archaeologists have found remnants of what has been described as batons which were seemingly used for sexual purposes from the Upper Palaeolithic age (40,000-10,000 years ago). Up until recently, it was assumed that dildo-type artefacts found in China from 12,000 years ago were the oldest in the world. These are assumed to have been used by aristocratic women who were sexually deprived. However, an 8 inch long phallus from over 30,000 years ago was discovered in a cave near Ulms, Germany. Some ancient pagan cultures even used dildos during fertility rites!

Dildos were also to make an appearance in Ancient Greek culture, most famously being mentioned on numerous occasions in Lysistrata, a 5th century BC comedy written by Aristophanes. They were also mentioned in Mime VI, a 3rd century BC comedy written by Herodas. In it, a female character asks her friend for a loan of a dildo only to be told that someone else has borrowed it. Considering how open ancient cultures were about their sexual exploits, it should come as no surprise that dildos found their way into their literature.

Middle Ages

In Renaissance Italy, dildos were known as ‘dilettos’ which originated from the Italian word for ‘to delight’. At this time, dildos were made from leather or wood with olive oil used to lubricate. This was a change from ancient creations which used a range of materials such as jade, bronze and ivory. The award for worst material made to create dildos goes to some African cultures which used camel dung and resin, leaving this unholy concoction outside to dry before use! Even though dildos in ancient time were often designed to look like penises, there were also a range of innovative designs with some used as statues in people’s homes.

Modern Era

One of the reasons why we believe that dildos are a modern phenomenon is because they disappeared from popular culture for hundreds of years. However, the erotic movie era, beginning in the 1930s, brought this sex toy back with a vengeance. In the early 20th century, vibrators were used by for external purposes only with ‘hysterical’ women being prescribed it as some sort of treatment! Using it for penetration in this era would have been considered far too risqué. The rubber and silicone offerings used today were only created in the 1970s onwards. In the modern era, one would expect dildos to be an acceptable part of culture, but this is not always the case.

In India and a variety of American states, the sale of dildos is seen to be an illegal practice. For example, the state of Alabama created an Anti-Obscenity Enforcement Act in 1998 which prohibited the sale of dildos. This act was upheld in the Supreme Court 9 years later. A large number of Conservative Christians also view dildos to be immoral. Despite this controversy, it seems as if the world’s oldest sex toy will continue to be popular around the world as long as mankind has an interest in sexual stimulation.