Caring for others does not just keep them physically healthy but also mentally too. Nothing helps mental health like being entertained.

Children’s toys are a tradition dating back over 3000 years before the advent of Lego and Pokemon. Animal figures feature in the archaeological record of the Mycenaeans, one of the earliest Greek Civilisations. The exact purpose of these figures remains unknown. They frequently feature in children’s graves, suggesting that they may have been toys. The Minoan Civilisation of the island of Crete may have influenced the design of these figures. Bulls and cows were common in their artwork and did not feature in mainland Greece’s art in earlier periods, suggesting that the Myceneans borrowed from Minoan art.

Toys were relatively rare throughout history. Until recently, children were expected to spend most of their time at work. But toys were by no means unknown, as dolls, animal figurines, and marbles were used as early as the Ancient Egyptians’ time. A less orthodox form of the toy was big’s bladders, which Ancient Greek children used as makeshift balls. Wooden toys were favored for millennia until the advent of the Industrial Revolution. Now toys could be mass-produced and cheaply made, leading to a boom in the market. The jigsaw debuted in 1767, and the kaleidoscope in 1817. This blossoming would continue into the 20th century. The arrival of materials like plasticine and plastic ensured an ever-growing increase in the type and variety of available toys.

Artist: Rebecca Sgouros

Hands holding a range of bronse age toys - figures and animals

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Credit: Rebecca Sgouros and Open Past

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