The Roman Dodecahedra, Mysterious Ancient Artifacts Whose Purpose Remains A Mystery – ewao


More than a hundred dodecahedra absorb been found by archaeologists throughout the territory of the ancient Roman Empire, including countries such as Spain, Italy, France, even in outlying areas such as Germany, Wales, and Hungary.

According to the archaeological records, they date back to the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD, but their exact purpose is still a mystery which experts absorb not been able to solve.

The Roman Dodecahedra are small hollow objects made of bronze or stone in the shape of a Dodecahedra, twelve pentagonal faces, each of which has a circular gap in the center, of different diameters.

The first Roman Dodecahedra was found in 1739, and since then they absorb continued to seem sum over Europe.

Ancient Roman dodecahedron found in Atuatuca Tungrorum (Tongeren). It’s a small hollow thing made of bronze or stone with a dodecahedral shape. Its utilize is still unclear and several proposals absorb been made including an aid for knitting gloves and a device for determining the optimal sowing date for winter grain. Collection of Gallo-Romeins Museum, Tongeren, Belgium. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Most of these curious objects were found in France and Germany and range in size between 4 and 11 centimeters in diameter.

However, no mention has been made of these objects in contemporary sources, nor any representation in mosaics, reliefs or other artistic expressions which raises many questions.

Their exact purpose has been debated for more than 2 centuries and some archeologists argue that the mystery objects may absorb used as supports for candles since experts absorb found wax remains on a few of them.

But the theories also point to other possible utilities, such as for example being a kind of dice for some sort of ancient game.

Some authors absorb even proposed that these artifacts may absorb been used as measuring instruments to calculate distances (diopters), and even determine the appropriate date for planting grain in winter, calibrate water pipes or devout objects or artifacts used in different rituals. However, some experts absorb proposed that these mysterious objects may absorb had a much simpler purpose and may absorb been used as a children’s toy.

However, given that fact that most of these objects were found mainly in the peripheral areas of the Roman empire, where the presence of Roman legions constituted the main group of Roman citizens, the Roman dodecahedrons may absorb been a military artifact.

Its utilize as measuring devices seems a bit off because the dodecahedrons are not sum the same, they absorb several sizes, and their faces are always different, so they wouldn’t absorb been very useful whether used as measuring devices. (Read this approximately the theory that they were used as a device for measuring distance.)

A few of the ancient texts available approximately the mystery artifacts were left by Plutarch, the well-known Greek historian, who wrote that these artifacts were representations of the zodiac, where each of the twelve faces corresponded to an animal of the astrological circle. But even this theory has been rejected by scholars since it does not interpret the peculiar decoration of the dodecahedra.

It is noteworthy to mention that many of the dodecahedra were found together with other treasures and coins, probably buried by their owners to shroud from robbers or looters, which indicates that they were considered as valuable objects.

Smaller dodecahedra with the same features (holes and knobs) and made from gold absorb been found discovered by experts in South-East Asia.

They absorb been used for decorative purposes and the earliest items appear to be from the Roman epoch.

Fragments of an ancient Roman dodecahedron found in 2010 at the construction site of the A2 tunnel in Maastricht. Height: 8.1 cm. The 20 corners were decorated with separately attached dots. Photographed at the temporary exhibition Top or Topic in Centre Céramique in Maastricht, the Netherlands. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

So what precisely these mysterious artifacts were, remains a mystery.

However, one theory that I find fairly appealing was proposed by G.M.C. Wagemans who wrote “the dodecahedron was an astronomic measuring instrument with which the angle of the sunlight can be measured and thereby one specific date in springtime, and one date in the autumn can be determined with accuracy. The dates that can be measured were probably of importance for the agriculture”.

Featured image credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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