How Dildos Have Changed Throughout History

How Dildos Have Changed Throughout History

If you think dildos are a modern invention, think again. The dildo you know and love has been around for at least 28,000 years. It may be older, but archaeologists haven’t found artifacts dating back any further — yet.

Are ancient dildos drastically different than modern versions? And who used them? Here’s what you need to know.

Stone Age Dildos

Stone Age DildosThe oldest known dildo dates back nearly 30,000 years. Scientists still hesitate to label phallic-shaped tools as dildos but have slowly begun to loosen up about it over the years. When faced with the shape, length, and girth of these phallic objects and no other explanation of what it could be, they finally concede that maybe, just maybe, it’s an ancient sex toy.

Stone Age dildos were primarily made from stone, but the materials varied from chalk to siltstone to animal bone. Some early dildos feature markings and designs that make the dildo look very realistic. These details make it clear that scientists keep finding something other than “batons.” 

Ancient Greece

Ancient Greece is known for being a more sexually open society than more modern time periods. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Greeks definitely had dildos. The most infamous were olisbokollikes — dildos made from bread. It’s unclear whether they were used in some kind of ritual or if Greek people used them the way we use cucumbers today.

Bread wasn’t the only material of choice. Dildos could be made of leather, as well. Double-sided dildos existed, as well. For all their openness to sexual pleasure, Ancient Greeks kept strict rules about their sex toys. One stated that women could not penetrate men with a dildo, but it is believed that plenty of men used dildos on themselves and each other.

Han Dynasty

Han DynastyThe Han Dynasty in China existed from 206 BC to 220 AD. Archaeologists excavated tombs from this time period and found something you might not expect. Dildos. Lots and lots of dildos — many made of bronze and very intricately designed.

During the Han dynasty, dildos and sexual pleasure were not treated as dirty little secrets. In fact the importance of sexual pleasure was part of their culture. Having a sex toy in a tomb meant that the person experience pleasure and satisfaction in the after life — just as they may have had while they lived.

Renaissance Europe

Sometime over the next 1000-plus years, scandal and sex became intertwined — at least for those living in European countries. Sex toys existed, as they always had, but “polite” society didn’t talk about them. It’s said that nuns in the 1500s used dildos to quench their sexual urges. Shakespeare specifically mentions dildos in his play The Winter’s Tale. The wealthy often used dildos but no discussed it or admitted it.

One interesting and delightful side note is that the term we use today for dildo comes from “diletto.” It means “to delight” in Italian.

Edo-Period Japan

Europeans have long been repressed about many things, but the Japanese were slightly less so during the Edo period. They created and sold erotic books and images called “shunga.” Shunga often featured women buying and using dildos. In 1722 the Japanese government banned shunga, but that didn’t stop anyone from getting their hands on it. It simply moved underground.

Modern Day Dildos

Modern Day DildosAs electricity, steam-power, and other mechanics became more popular at the turn of the 20th century, the invention of the vibrator (often sold as a personal massager) began to take center stage. But that doesn’t mean dildos disappeared. Through the 1960s and into the 1970s, dildos were made primarily of rubber. It may have been easier and cheaper to make but it was difficult to clean, impossible to sterilize, and eventually fell apart.

At this time dildos were marketed as a sexual aid for men with physical disabilities that prevented penetrative sex. To polite society, dildos should only be sold to straight couples so they could have sex. Cue the laughter. The first silicone dildo, made by Gosnell Duncan, became available in the early 1970s. After an accident, he wanted penetrative sex with his partner and didn’t want to use a rubber dildo. The next time you use a safe, gorgeous, and luxurious silicone dildo, you know who to thank for the concept.


Sex toys are not a new invention. Ancient people wanted to get off just like us. Their materials may have been limited, not their desire for sexual pleasure. These days, we can buy dildos in any color, shape, material, and design — from the highly detailed and realistic to an abstract creation that barely looks like a dildo. But we are continuing a long tradition of seeking sexual pleasure in toys. When you need a new dildo, shop with us at Caliente Adult Superstore!

Infographic for How Dildos Have Changed Throughout History
Share on:
Kayla L. Written by Kayla L..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.