Assyrian basalt is seen as a stern, utilitarian stone, usually being displayed in monumental buildings or in the form of statues of forbidding and vengeful gods. This piece, from 650 BC Nineveh, casts the material in a kinder light – as a feminine sex aid.
The shape of the fish lends itself to phallic comparison and there is abundant evidence of actual fish being utilised for sexual stimulation throughout history. However, the material remains of such ichthyophile practices have been lost to time and decay. We are left with artificial examples such as this stone phallus, currently on display in the British Museum.
This example presages current trends in sexual enhancement devices with its streamlined profile and ridged surface. With appropriate advertising and marketing techniques, there seems no reason why the same product should not succeed if launched on today’s market.