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Roman dodecahedron found in Germany

A Roman dodecahedron is a small hollow object made of bronze or stone, with a dodecahedral shape: twelve flat pentagonal faces, each having a circular hole in the middle which connects to the hollowed-out center. Roman dodecahedra date from the 2nd or 3rd centuries CE.

About a hundred of these dodecahedra have been found from England to Hungary and to the east of Italy, with most found in Germany and France. Ranging from 4cm to 11cm in size, they also vary in terms of textures. Most of them are made of bronze but some also seem to be made of stone.

The function or use of the dodecahedra remains a mystery; no mention of them has been found in contemporary accounts or pictures of the time. Speculated uses include candlesticks (wax was found inside one example); dice; survey instruments; that they were used to calibrate water pipes; and army standard bases. It has also been suggested that they may have been religious artifacts of some kind. This latter speculation is based on the fact that most of the examples have been found in Gallo-Roman sites.[1][2]

Notes

  1. ^ Henig, Martin (1984). Religion in Roman Britain. Routledge. p. 128. ISBN 0713460474.  
  2. ^ Kilford, L.J.P. (December 2004), "A Mathematical Tourist in Germany", Mathematics Today 40 (6): 204  

References

  • Hill, C. (1994), "Gallo-Roman Dodecahedra: a progress report", The Antiquaries' Journal 74: 289–292  

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