Roman Dodecahedron

A Roman dodecahedron [doh-dek-uh-hee-druhn] is a small hollow object made of bronze or stone, with 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 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.

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; a tool for calibrating water pipes; and parts of a military standard. It has also been suggested that they may have been religious artifacts of some kind.

3 Comments to “Roman Dodecahedron”

  1. The one at the top, with the big holes, has indeed 12 sides and it is a dodecahedron.
    But the one in the second photograph, i.e. the one with the triangles, has not 12 but 20 sides. The Greek term is heikosahedron (in Greek : heikosi = twenty), though my spelling might be mistaken.

  2. Or icosahedron in english.

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