6,000-year-old stone penis unearthed in Israel

Penis statues and figurines were popular in the ancient world (especially in Rome), but it appears that our infatuation with the phallus goes back even further. This bad boy is 6,000 years old.

Archaeologists digging in a railroad construction site managed to excavate the remains of a town from the time periods between 6000-4000 BCE, discovering a wealth of tools, seeds, and this penis-shaped item. Is it a dildo, or just a tool that's made to look like many people's favorite male organ? It's not clear. What is clear is that it's part of one of the most fascinating archeological digs in recent memory.

According to Live Science's Megan Gannon:

"For the first time in the country, entire buildings and extensive habitation levels were exposed from these early periods, in which the rich material culture of the local residents was discovered," IAA excavation directors, Yitzhak Paz and Ya'akov Vardi, said in a statement this month.

"We found a large number of flint and obsidian arrowheads, polished miniature stone axes, blades and other flint and stone tools," the archaeologists added. "The large amount of tools made of obsidian, a material that is not indigenous to Israel, is indicative of the trade relations that already existed with Turkey, Georgia and other regions during this period."

The team said they also found thousands of charred broad bean seeds inside of a pit — providing an early example of legume cultivation in the Middle East — and the remains of early Chalcolithic rectangular buildings, replete with pottery and flint and stone tools. Other artifacts were slightly more enigmatic, such as the phallic figurine and a palette bearing a schematic etching of female genitals. The IAA called these objects "cultic sexual symbols" that might have represented the fertility of the earth.

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Photo via Ya'akov Vardi, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority