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Roman dodecahedra

The first Roman Dodecahedron was found in 1739. Since then, more than 100 more have been discovered across Europe. ( example with photo )

As the name suggests, they are 12-sided objects - and are hollow, usually with circular holes on each pentagonal face. They are normally made from copper alloy (i.e. bronze like).

Sizes vary from 4 to 11 cm in diameter. They have been dated to between the 2nd to 4th centuries AD

Their purpose is unknown.

They usually show very little signs of wear, suggesting that they were well looked after.

Speculations about their uses include :

  • Survey instruments
  • Devices for estimating grain-sowing times
  • Jewelry objects
  • Game 'dice'
  • As a from of coinage
  • Religious artefacts
  • 'Fortune-telling' devices
  • Shot selection devices
  • Astronomical guides
  • Knitting helper

Note: Although they are generally referred to as 'Roman' artefacts, there are apparently no references to them in any roman texts, and although they've been found across Europe, none has so far been found in Italy.


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