Medieval Stone Penis Weapon Sharpener Says a Lot About Men

In the Ría de Vigo estuary in northwestern Spain, the archaeologist cooperative Árbore Arqueoloxía unearthed a six-inch stone penis they think was used to sharpen weapons. Although archaeologists frequently find phallic objects at Ancient Roman and Celtic sites, the collective’s discovery marks a relatively rarer instance of a penis artifact uncovered in a Medieval European context.

The team found the artifact in the rubble near Torre de Meira, a 14th-century tower that was destroyed in 1476 during Spain’s Irmandiño War. Frustrated with the oppressive feudal system, peasants and other citizens revolted against the ruling nobility. An estimated 130 castles, towers, and other fortresses were destroyed.

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The object is rare in its medieval context but was common in Ancient Rome.

“It materializes the symbolic association between violence, weapons, and masculinity,” archaeologist Darío Peña told Hyperallergic. “An association that we know existed in the Middle Ages and that is present in our culture today.”

Peña explained that although sharpening stones are commonly found in medieval sites, those artifacts tend to take other forms. The archaeologists discerned the object’s use by noticing a pattern of wear on one side of the stone.

They can’t be entirely sure of the object’s cultural meaning, but the team thinks its location near the sacked tower might offer a clue.

Ría de Vigo has a long history of human settlement and important archaeological finds. Neolithic, Bronze Age, and Iron Age works have been discovered there, and an Ancient Roman villa and sea salt factory survive to this day.

While Medieval European penis artifacts remain rare, a host of Ancient Roman carved, painted, and etched phalluses have been uncovered in recent years. In February, historians even identified what may have been an Ancient Roman dildo. In some of the discoveries, images of penises seem to have been employed as derogatory jabs (one instance of phallic graffiti was accompanied by the words “Secundinus, the shitter”), but the symbol was also thought to scare away evil spirits and bring good luck.

The Torre de Meira ruins


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