The design of 3,000-year-old sippy cups is totally adorable

These cute little pottery vessels — fashioned in the shape of animals — are about 3,000 years old, and were found near children's graves. A group of scientists hypothesized that they might actually be sippy cups, and when they analyzed the contents, voila: They contained the residue of milk. Sippy cups!

Over at Fast Company, Elizabeth Segran meditates on the design lessons at hand here. Quite apart from the fact that adorable animal-shapes clearly have a historic vintage in tech-for-feeding-children, our ancestors had a leg up on us in their use of sustainable materials:

These prehistoric sippy cups remind us that people were extremely creative with reusable materials millennia before plastic was invented. Just like our baby bottles, these ancient vessels were functional, perfectly sized for pouring milk into a child's small mouth. But they were also fun, shaped like tiny cows and goats. And unlike our plastic bottles, which are designed to be thrown out after a few years, it took time and effort to create these ancient vessels—it is likely they would have been designed to last, perhaps even passed down from one child to another. They were such valuable items, full of such sentimental value, that they were buried with children who died too soon.

The original academic letter, "Milk of ruminants in ceramic baby bottles from prehistoric child graves," is online and unpaywalled here.

(Image above from Enver Hirsch/courtesy Wien Museum])