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around 200 BCE–400 CE

Serpentinite Icosahedral Die

Ancient Egyptian 20-sided die

This 20-sided die with very precisely cut regular triangular faces dates to around 200 BCE–400 CE and is one of several known examples of ancient icosahedral dice bearing numerals on their faces.

Serpentinite Icosahedral Die

Polyhedral dice made in various materials have survived from the Hellenistic and Roman periods from ancient Egypt. Most have faces labeled with the numbers 1 to 20 written either in Greek or Roman numerals. While the specific use of these dice is not known, it has been suggested they were used for games.

Artifact dimensions

3.2 cm × 3.8 cm × 3.4 cm

Artifact origin

Egypt

Current artifact location

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City

Catalog number

551072

Timeline

Polyhedra timeline Burnt City Dice Euclid's Elements Pottery Sherd Icosahedron Construction Serpentinite Icosahedral Die Icosahedral Die with Divine Entities Da Vinci's Polyhedra Kepler's Planetary System

Interactive Content

Computational Explanation

Other Resources

Additional Reading

  • Horster, G. "Antike Polyeder: Vom Spiel mit Form und Zahl im Ptolemaïschen Ägypten zum Kleinod in Römischen Europa." In Jahrbuch des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts, Vol. 132, p. 147, cat. III.B.14, 2017.
  • Senechal, M. (Ed.). Shaping Space: Exploring Polyhedra in Nature, Art, and the Geometrical Imagination. Springer, p. 56, 2013.

Image Credits

Metropolitan Museum of Art