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Children’s games in ancient Rome

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Kids wrestling and peanut games
Kids wrestling and peanut games. Sarcophagus, Paris, Louvre

That the ancient Romans liked to have fun is no secret to anyone with even the faintest idea of ​​Roman history. Great famous buildings like Flavian Amphitheater, Circus Maximus, Pompeii Amphitheater and many other lesser-known buildings of this type where numerous events took place such as naumachias, gladiator fights or chariot races, only confirm this. But what about children? Did they have fun too? If so, what kind? Did they have their own toys?
The answer to these questions is: YES!
Children of ancient Romans had no playgrounds, their playground was the street. The children liked to play hide and seek, they also built towers of various objects and, using walnuts and sometimes small stones, tried to demolish them. The boys, playing soldiers, took sticks and, pretending to be mounted on horses, joyfully ran around the street. The children also played chess.

Toys for children also existed then, they were known long before the founding of Rome. In children’s graves, archaeologists sometimes find dolls (pupa) to play with. However, this is not an ordinary piece of cloth in which someone has carved the human figure of a woman. Well, this pupa had movable arms and legs and was usually made of wood, ivory or terracotta. The children also had swings and friges at their disposal.

Author: Piotr Szuba (translated from Polish: Jakub Jasiński)
  • Alberto Angela, Jeden dzień w starożytnym Rzymie, Warszawa 2021

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