• NCR Regional Archeology Program

    NCR Regional Archeology Program


Themes in Time

Playthings of the Past — Marbles


Marbles, from Rock Creek Park.

Playing marbles has long been a popular pastime for children. Toy marbles have been found on archeological sites in Europe and North Africa dating from the second century A.D. The game of marbles has been played by children in Europe from at least the 1400s. In the sixteenth century, several cities in Europe introduced punishment for children playing marbles in the streets. One English village went so far as to authorize the use of a cat o' nine tails on boys "who played at marbles under the fish stand and refused to be warned off." Today's marbles are made almost exclusively of glass. However, marbles in the past have been made of glass, ceramic, or stone. These examples were collected from the Old Stone House in Rock Creek Park.

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