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Copper Age Children's Toys Were Owl-Shaped Plaques
According to a report published in Scientific Reports1, ancient owl-shaped slate engraved plaques from the Iberian Peninsula that date back roughly 5,000 years may have been made by kids as toys. These findings might shed light on how kids interacted with objects in prehistoric European communities.
In tombs and pits all throughout the Iberian Peninsula, there have been discovered about 4,000 engraved slate plaques that resemble owls, with two carved circles for eyes and a body delineated below, and that date to the Copper Age, which lasted between 5,500 and 4,750 years ago.
It has been hypothesized that these owl plaques represented the deceased or deities and may have had ritualistic significance. But after reexamining this theory, the authors of the present study propose that the owl plaques may have been made by young people using local owl species and possibly served as dolls, toys, or amulets.
They came to this conclusion by creating a metric. On a scale of one to six, the authors graded 100 plaques according to how many of six owl characteristics they exhibited, including two eyes, feathery tufts, patterned feathers, a flat facial disk, a beak, and wings. The authors found significant parallels between 100 contemporary owl drawings made by kids between the ages of four and thirteen and these plaques. As kids got older and more skilled, their owl drawings became more like real owls.
The writers note that many plaques include two tiny holes at the top. But these holes don't have the wear-marks that would be expected if they had been used to put a cord through so that the plaque could be hung. Instead, the tufts on the heads of some local owl species, including the long-eared owl, may be imitated by inserting feathers through the holes, according to their theory.
The authors contend that many of the owl plaques were made by kids and evolved into owl-like sculptures as the kids' carving abilities improved, rather than being carved by master carvers for use in rituals. They might offer a window into how kids behaved in Copper Age communities.