Hidden Content
Some 2,000 years ago, Roman settlers established a site called Vindolanda in northern England. Later, in 1992, archeologists discovered a treasure trove of crafting goods at the ancient fort.

Among the scraps of cloth, leather, shoes, and dresses, they found a wooden object. They filed it off as a darning egg ó an implement used to mend socks and other clothing.

They were likely wrong. A new review suggests that the thing is something else entirely.

Itís possibly the first life-sized Roman dildo.

ďI have to confess part of me thinks itís kind of self-evident that it is a penis,Ē the studyís lead author and Newcastle University senior lecturer of archeology, Rob Collins, told The Guardian.

And heís not wrong. Although the object is pretty nondescript otherwise, its thinner tip bears a striking resemblance to human male equipment.

ďI donít know who entered it into the catalog. Maybe it was somebody uncomfortable with it or didnít think the Romans would do such silly things,Ē Collins said.

If it was the latter case, the person really didnít know much about the Romans. Considering how much they loved penis imagery, itís quite easy to believe that the thing is indeed an ancient dildo.

Indeed, Romans werenít shy about male genitalia. Case in point, one of their gods, Mutunus Tutunus, was sometimes depicted as just a giant winged penis.

But whatís significant about the Vindolanda discovery is its size.

ďWhat makes this a first is that it is not a small, miniature phallus. Itís lifesize,Ē said Collins.

Indeed, at six inches long, the thing is actually a bit longer than the average dong. But it may have originally been more sizeable.

Wood rarely survives the passage of time and even when it does, it tends to shrink and deform. So, the ancient dildo may have once been quite hung.

Hey, maybe its owner just liked Ďem big.

ďTo our knowledge, [this is] the first Roman dildo thatís been encountered from archaeology. We know from Greek and Roman poetry and Ö art that they used dildos. But we havenít had any archaeological examples found which is intriguing in itself, Collins explained.

However, even if the object is a dildo, that doesnít mean anybody used to get their rocks off. It may have had a much more sinister purpose.

In addition to pleasure, Romans also used various kinds of dildos for pain. Yes, at times, they were tools of torture.

Weíll probably never know which purpose the Vindolanda dildo served. But Collins sure hopes it was for some naughty fun.

ďThat is the most exciting and intriguing possibility,Ē he admitted.

Other Possibilities
Yet, despite its penile nature, the object isnít necessarily a dildo. As we mentioned, penis imagery was far from rare in Rome.

Romans decorated practically everything with depictions of wangs. You can find them on statues, vases, necklaces, mosaics, frescoes, and more.

So, it could be that the object is, indeed, a darning egg. Some Roman jokester may have simply found it funny ó or kinky ó to carve it in the shape of a penis.

Collins and his team have also speculated on the wooden phallusí potential other uses.

ďWe had some very interesting discussions,Ē he said.

One thing is clear, though. Both heads of the Vindolanda phallus have worn smooth so it was definitely used for something.

The shape of the objectís thicker end could indicate that it used to be a pestle for crushing spices or perhaps cosmetics. In this case, as with the darning tool, the penis shape would be most likely incidental.

Another option is that the penis was once slotted into a statue. Romans believed that the phallus could ward off evil forces ó somehow.

The penis couldíve jutted out of the crotch of a statue that passersby would rub for protection and good luck. No, weíre not kidding. These things were common in Rome.

In the end, though, weíll probably never know for sure. Unless researchers find some clearly accompanying objects, we can only speculate.

The Vindolanda phallus may have been a Roman ladyís special friend for lonely nights. Or it may have been a juvenile joke between two youths.

But it definitely is a penis.