Games and Toys

Both archaeological finds and written sources demonstrate that various types of games and toys occupied a respected place in the leisure culture of adults and children in the ancient world. Both children and adults enjoyed games and amused themselves with sports competitions, games with pets, dances, songs, and various musical instruments.

Children's toys included dolls (which differed in shape from fertility goddesses), everyday miniature objects, miniatures of animals, wheeled toys, and more.

Board games were among the earliest and most common toys in the ancient world. Game boards, stone counters, dice, game tokens, and other objects that served as game pieces – such as astragals, bones, and sticks – have been found in archaeological excavations throughout the ancient Near East and testify to the wide distribution of board games.

It should be noted that it is not always possible to determine with certainty whether a certain object served as a toy or ritual accessory, practical or otherwise.
Clay model of a wagon, Cyprus
Late Canaanite (Bronze) Period
Game board, limestone, with dice made of fish bones
Atlit Medieval period
Courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority 

Pulling toy in the shape of a clay fowl
from a grave at Mghar al-Sharif (Sharon plain)
Courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority