The graceful austerity of the toys on display, most from the Egyptian town of Karanis and dating from 100 B.C.E. to 400 C.E., make Elmo look a bit chintzy by comparison. There are jaunty V-shaped wheeled wooden horses (right), a neatly plaited rattle once filled with chips of broken glass(!), and meticulously shaped, lovable clay animal figurines.
One sign notes that one figurine is ambiguous, representing either a horse or a cow. "How can you not see that that's a cow? Looks like these archaeologists didn't spend enough time on the farm," sniffed one impeccably coiffed Ann Arbor mom in pricey boots. I immediately inspected the object, and well, I hate to be a neighsayer.
Other families got similarly engaged, reading signs to their kids and lifting up the six little hinged doors, mounted at kid height on the walls, that display a kid-friendly question on the outside and the answer hidden within.