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Children of the Ice Age

Reconstruction of three Palaeolithic girls playing with a doll. Painted by Tom Björklund

Reconstruction of three Palaeolithic girls playing with a doll. Painted by Tom Björklund

By Michelle Langley

What did kids play with 20,000 years ago? New research suggests that figurines long thought to have been ritual icons may actually be children’s toys.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Trying to find evidence for what children were doing during the Palaeolithic period of Europe 45,000 to 11,000 years ago is a relatively new aspect of archaeological research. So far, researchers have been able to find traces of children learning how to make stone tools and perhaps training to become artists, but those items that we most strongly associate with childhood – toys – are yet to be located.

That is, until now. New research exploring a culture that thrived throughout Western Europe between 21,000 and 14,000 years ago – known to archaeologists as the Magdalenian – has begun shedding light on what children’s toys may have looked like during this early period.

The Magdalenian is known for its magnificent and skilful artistic tradition, which not only included the rock art of Lascaux (and elsewhere) but also carved figurines and richly decorated tools made from reindeer antler, mammoth...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.