An image taken at a museum has gone viral over the past week. You’ve probably seen it quite a few times already. It shows a “spinning toy with animal heads” from thousands of years ago.
It does look like a fidget spinner, and the museum labeled it as a “spinning toy”.
However, all is not as it seems. While the photo is real and the label isn’t photoshopped, it’s actually just a case of mislabelling.
Evans told The Verge that though it looks a lot like a children’s toy, it makes more sense if the object is a mace head. She said that when the object was first found in 1932, the team may have thought the object was a spinning astronomical device.
However, she believes that since it was discovered near a temple, and maces were thought to be a “weapon of the gods” in ancient Mesopotamia, it’s much more likely that it is a mace head.
The museum is updating all its labels, and this object will likely be moved to the mace head section when that takes place.
This isn’t to say there are not familar-looking toys from that era. This toy, also on display at the Oriental Institute Museum, was discovered in Khafajah, near Baghdad. It dates from 2900-2330 BCE and is a Mesopotamian example of a pull toy, much like the pull toys still used by young children today.