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Saturday October 25, 2014
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Archaeologies of Childhood

 

continued

Roman Egypt.

The graceful austerity of the toys on display, most from the Egyptian town of Karanis and dating from 100 B.C.E. to 400 C.E., make Elmo look a bit chintzy by comparison. There are jaunty V-shaped wheeled wooden horses (right), a neatly plaited rattle once filled with chips of broken glass(!), and meticulously shaped, lovable clay animal figurines.

One sign notes that one figurine is ambiguous, representing either a horse or a cow. "How can you not see that that's a cow? Looks like these archaeologists didn't spend enough time on the farm," sniffed one impeccably coiffed Ann Arbor mom in pricey boots. I immediately inspected the object, and — well, I hate to be a neighsayer.

Other families got similarly engaged, reading signs to their kids and lifting up the six little hinged doors, mounted at kid height on the walls, that display a kid-friendly question on the outside and the answer hidden within.

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