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Stone Age Discovery: Ancient Sex Toy?

Phallic carving from Stone Age
OK, let's not be shy about this. Swedish archeologists have uncovered a prehistoric artifact made out of antler bone that looks like a modern dildo.

The phallic-shaped object, which may be as much as 6,000 years old, measures twelve by two centimeters. But deciding what exactly they came up with is the hard part for archeologists.

Phallic carving from Stone Age
Gsran Gruber of the National Heritage Board

Compared with findings at other Stone Age sites in Europe, experts say it is more common to find female fertility symbols, according to Gsran Gruber of the National Heritage Board in Sweden. In contrast, he noted, male fertility symbols are relatively rare.

Another Swedish archaeologist, Martin Rundkvist, cautioned that there were "many non-dildoish uses for which it may have been intended."

Still, he wrote on his blog "without doubt anyone alive at the time of its making would have seen the penile similarities just as easily as we do today. If it is actually a pressure-flaker for fine flint knapping, then this would tell us something about how such work was conceptualized in terms of gender."

The region where the artifact was found is rich in Mesolithic sites. Most of the excavations near Sweden's Motala River have  turned up large numbers of bone and wood artifacts - mainly harpoon and leister points, according to Rundkvist.

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    Charles Cooper is an executive editor at CNET News. He has covered technology and business for more than 25 years, working at, the Associated Press, Computer & Software News, Computer Shopper, PC Week, and ZDNet. E-mail Charlie.