Pulled pork! Archaeologists hit the PIG time after digging up Bronze Age children’s toy pigs
Archaeologists have found what could be Bronze Age "children's toys" from thousands of years ago, which are shaped like pigs.
The items were found in the village of Maszkowice, in southern Poland, around 68 km south-east of Kraków.
They were found at an ancient settlement from around 3,500 years ago encircled by a monumental stone wall – which captured researchers’ interests because it is the oldest of its kind in this part of Europe.
Inside one of the houses inside the settlement, the researchers found two small clay figurines that appear to represent pigs.
"These are the first such findings of zoomorphic figurines – that is, ones that represent animals,” said Marcin S. Przybyła from the Jagiellonian University’s Institute of Archeology, who is leading the research.
According to Przybyła, they are definitely pigs, though their clearly defined backs make them look a bit like today’s wild boars. Pigs back then looked more like wild boars than ones today, he explained.
Just a few centimetres long, the figurines are shaped like pigs, with a visible snout and ears. Their soft earthy colour with pinkish tones makes them look even more like pigs.
One of them is darker than the other, which could result from an accidental difference in the firing process used to harden the clay figures after their shape was formed.
Although they were found inside the same house, the figurines’ slightly different style may be a sign that they were made by two different people, Przybyła suggests.
The objects could have been used to tell a story with a special significance for the people of the time.
A more modern example are the Nativity Scene figures made out of wood or other materials that some families bring out before Christmas.