Mud Crocodile [Toy]
This small sculpture of a crocodile is made of Nile River mud, and was probably a toy fashioned by a child at play. The crocodile was a familiar monster to children living along the Nile—an object of fear and fascination. This 5 centimeter (2 inch) long mud figurine has open jaws, slits for eyes, a curved tail that seems to whip it through the water, and feet that seem to be in motion. The maker used a stick to scratch markings into the back and along the tail to represent the animal's scales. The sculpture is mud rather than kiln-fired clay, but survived in Egypt's dry climate, within the protected context of the town Petrie excavated near the oasis of Fayyum, dates to the Twelfth Dynasty of Egypt (1795BCE-1985BCE). Archaeologist William Flinders Petrie found many everyday objects in the town's houses and workshops. Among the toys excavated were spinning tops, balls, and dolls with styled hair. From elaborately fashioned games and toys to simple objects of play made spontaneously from mud or straw, to children using just their bodies to devise games, both artifacts and depictions in tomb paintings show that Egyptian children of all ages and social classes found ways to amuse themselves.
The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, University College London, Object ID # UC7196, at http://www.petrie.ucl.ac.uk/detail/details/index_no_login.php?objectid=UC7196&accesscheck=%2Fdetail%2Fdetails%2Findex.php (accessed March 26, 2009). Text on Kahun or Lahun excavation from Petrie, William Flinders, F. LL. Griffith, and Percy E. Newbury. Kahun, Gurob, and Hawara. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Truebner, and Co., 1890, 30–31, retrieved at http://www1.lib.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/eos/eos_page.pl?DPI=100&callnum=DT73.K3P5_cop1&ident=1 (accessed March 26, 2009).
How to Cite This Source
"Mud Crocodile [Toy]," in Children and Youth in History, Item #219, http://chnm.gmu.edu/cyh/primary-sources/219 (accessed March 31, 2015). Annotated by Susan Douglass