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Sunday October 22, 2017
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Archaeologies of Childhood

 

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Signs explain that unlike today's more frivolous toys, ancient toys tended to be utilitarian tools to train kids into adult roles. On display are a wooden weaver's comb, a toy hammer, and toys presumably meant for playing house, such as miniature jars, pots, and bowls and a tiny chair and storage chest. There's also a soldier's dagger and a rather ominous whip.

Nearby lie more playful items, versions of which are still in use today, such as cloth-strip dolls with human hair and a stone sheep knucklebone that reveals the antiquity of Crazy Bones, the contemporary version of this jacks-like game.

In a baby blue criblike display box lies the spookiest part of the show, a lifelike, life-size photo of a child mummy (the real one's in cold storage). Signs explain that the relic was given a CAT scan, which revealed the surprising information that the five-year-old boy has six fingers on his left hand, a possible result of the then-accepted practice of marriage to relatives.

There's an arresting photo of the dingy, somewhat ragged, tiny brown mummy riding with an air of immense gravity and dignity into what seems to represent eternity, the immaculate, huge white technodoughnut of a U-M CAT scanner.

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