Archaeologists Discover Possible Ancient Roman Sex Toy

Research is ongoing

Vindolanda, where the object was found.
OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images

Due to the work of dedicated archaeologists, we know an increasing amount about how ancient Romans lived their daily lives. People living in 2023 can now speak with some authority about ancient Romans’ fondness for burgers and their pandemic responses, among a host of other topics. But there’s another part of everyday life in ancient Rome that we know a bit less about — namely, what about the more salacious elements of it?

Well, as it turns out, we might have more information about that before long. Archaeologists have unearthed an object of uncertain function, but there are two prevailing theories. One is that it’s a pestle; the other is that it’s a dildo.

As The Art Newspaper reports, the item in question was discovered in 1992 at a Roman fort in Northumbria. Initially, experts believed it was a pestle; now, there seems to be a growing belief that it was a sex toy. Should that be the case, it would be the first of its kind to be discovered. “If the phallus is a sex object, then it would also be the first known sex object from the Roman Empire,” said Newcastle University’s Dr. Rob Collins in an interview with The Telegraph.

The Art Newspaper‘s article also contains a third possibility: that the object was used as both a pestle and a sex toy by the ancient Romans.

The Sleeper Hit of 2019 Is a Psych-Thriller About Mannequins and an Evil Dress
Peter Strickland’s “In Fabric” investigates the dark undertones of retail therapy

Dr. Collins is presently working with Dr. Rob Sands of University College of Dublin to further research the object’s origins. What could this tell us about the everyday lives of ancient Romans? Possibly much more than we’d ever expected to learn.

The InsideHook Newsletter.

News, advice and insights for the most interesting person in the room.