by Lori-Ann Austin, AC
Many fine examples of wooden and clay mechanical string toys have been found in the tombs of Ancient Egypt. The original of this particular wooden crocodile is believed to be from 1100 BCE and is on exhibit at the East Berlin Museum. Some anthropologists believe these "toys" to be funerary objects placed in tombs to protect people in their next lives. The crocodile was a creature feared by many Egyptians and was commonly mummified and used to symbolize the god Sebek. The paddle doll, also from Ancient Egypt, is on display in the British Museum. The doll's hair is of sun-baked clay strung on flax thread. The doll's body is of wood and decorated with fertility motifs common to that era.
There are also many great examples in the Metropolitan Museum in NY. In 1887, the British archeologist Flinders Petrie discovered an Egyptian doll factory dating to 1800 BCE.