The rattle is said to have been invented by Archytas of Tarentum (born around 440 BC). But in fact the origins of this charming artefact are lost in time and it can undoubtedly be regarded as the oldest toy in the world. However, its use goes beyond that of a simple plaything intended to distract a child. The role attributed to it is often revealed in the choice of material used. Sometimes they are made of very ordinary materials such as dried fruit, pomegranates (whose Hochetseeds produce a rhythmical sound), or terracotta, sometimes in very precious materials such as gold, rubies, silver, mother of pearl, ivory, coral or crystal.
All cultures in all eras have had rattles, and they should not be regarded as simple children’s toys. Often they are used as dummies or teething rings. They may also indicate the wealth of the child’s family, and for thousands of years they have also been used as lucky charms to protect babies against disease and sorcery.