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Has This Man Solved The Roman Dodecahedron Mystery?

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posted on Jun, 3 2014 @ 05:20 PM

originally posted by: stormcell
Perhaps they were used for sealing scrolls with wax? That would explain the wax residue found and the holes of different sizes.

Or it could be more like the wax was a lubrication, it was used by the Romans for that purpose.

posted on Jun, 3 2014 @ 06:26 PM
I think the varying degrees of design suggest that this may not be the intended use, but I think your approach was novel and very interesting. Good job. I think the nodules suggest functionality, and have nothing to do with predicting the seasons or anything of that nature. This device seems purely designed for some crafting purpose in my opinion. Perhaps it could have been used to work with strips of leather or something, wrapping them around the nodules, although I have no idea what one could produce doing something like that. Maybe a hat, lol.

The nodules, in my opinion, seem perfectly suited to act as a "stop" of some kind. The holes do not seem to be necessary for functionality considering the shapes and presence of holes varies. The exact shape may not be important, but it very well could be considering they all seem to have a similar shape, multi-faceted as it were. Are there any that are just circles? Maybe circles would have worked for whatever they were going to do, but maybe it was just more difficult to cast or create a circle, or sphere I mean.

posted on Jun, 3 2014 @ 06:43 PM
a reply to: JohnnyCanuck

Many much simpler Roman caltrops have been found that are more easily and cheaply made, and much nastier - just four spikes from a central point will do the job. This is surely way over engineered and lacks Roman efficiency for such an item.

Blackmarketeer - i like this explanation, but it contains no answer to to the faces without holes (as yet) and the Etruscan artefacts may be possibly crude markers for wax seals - do you know if any of these are found with wax residues on them? I guess i'll have to add some reading on ancient sealing techniques to my current reading on knitting

posted on Jun, 3 2014 @ 07:09 PM
The most efficient way of making caltrops is to take two staple shaped pieces of metal and twist them together so that each end is at a 90 degree angle to the other. The process of casting them in bronze would be more time consuming and complicated than is necessary.

posted on Jun, 3 2014 @ 07:18 PM
I cant be the only one to have thunked it, but are they fancy-pants D12's?

Those would be dice to the uninitiated btw.

I can just imagine some ancient speccy Romans making saving-throws with these. Well, almost-ish.

posted on Jun, 3 2014 @ 07:47 PM
a reply to: skyblueworld

People have years of education to study ancient civilizations...

Leave it to a young adult to figure it out.


Now if we can get this kid to head to DC to solve the government problems.
edit on 3-6-2014 by Xcathdra because: (no reason given)

posted on Jun, 3 2014 @ 08:10 PM

originally posted by: skalla
I cant be the only one to have thunked it, but are they fancy-pants D12's?

Those would be dice to the uninitiated btw.
I can just imagine some ancient speccy Romans making saving-throws with these. Well, almost-ish.

That has been thunked, while there is nothing to suggest that it wasn't a game, it would have been truly a complex game. Who knows. Going with the Roman die game idea though, perhaps the Polyhedron was inside the Dodecahedron, and the holes were exclusive viewing holes for each gamer, AkA, each gamer had his or her own hole..if you pardon the expression,
to see if there was a complete face on the die. Or perhaps 12 players nominated a hole without anything inside, and the one that landed face down was a loser until 11 were eliminated, the nodules in that case would just be stabilisers.
Maybe the object ended up a game to the Romans, and was something not originally of Roman origin.
You could go on forever with this stuff.
edit on 3-6-2014 by smurfy because: Text.

posted on Jun, 3 2014 @ 09:03 PM
a reply to: skalla

Yes, several have been found with wax residue in them. There's an even better possible explanation along the lines of wax seals, is that these might have been seal boxes.

A seal box is different from just a wax seal. Made of lead or bronze, seal boxes were used when sending a packet of letters of other large items. The packet would be bundled up in a leather pouch or such, then bound with cord. Each cord would pass through the hole of the seal box and knotted inside it. The inside of the box would then be filled with wax, and impressed with a signet ring. See below:

Roman Locks

Of course this doesn't explain why these dodecahedra would be different from other known types of ancient Roman seal boxes.

posted on Jun, 3 2014 @ 09:34 PM
Someone I was just speaking to who is involved in ancient Roman studies is very confident these are related to divination. She was quick to point out some dodecahedra have been found carved with alphabetic letters or symbols related to divination. One in particular is known as the "dodecahedron of touchstone."

I made a feeble attempt at finding more about platonic shapes used for divination and saw that these were found among Greek and Etruscan and in general Italic peoples, made either of polished stone, rock crystal, or gem stones, and engraved with designs. Most links note that dodecahedra were used as "dice for purposes of divination." These were also found in stone in Scotland as pointed out earlier, and appear to even predate the Roman presence in the English isles.

A dodecahedron of rock crystal from the Idaean cave and evidence for divination in the sacred cave of Zeus

I can recall something about a Etruscan bronze liver that was found, for divination. So seeing these as 12-sided die in bronze is not much of a stretch. One of the links I visited referred to these as 'casting dodecahedra' for Tarot divination.

Believe it or not, even Native Americans had dodecahedra - and they too were related to Shamanism:

Relation of the Pentagonal Dodecahedron Found Near Marietta, Ohio, to Shamanism (Google Book, you'll have to scroll...)

The use for divination seems to me to be the best description for these, occult practices are bizarre enough and regional differences could account for the variations in style of these, so that it would extremely difficult to understand just how they were used. The ones found with a wax residue could be from having their inside filled with wax so a set of designs could be drawn on the faces for individual divination sessions. Who knows?
edit on 3-6-2014 by Blackmarketeer because: (no reason given)

posted on Jun, 4 2014 @ 05:43 AM
All of you are wrong.

It is a toy made to keep the kids quite and occupied.... See how well it works on all of us...

posted on Jun, 4 2014 @ 08:49 AM
My gut had always told me that this was designed for making fishing nets ... it would explain the size variations. It would be interesting to see if any of these were found very far inland.

posted on Jun, 4 2014 @ 08:56 AM
a reply to: Tybrus

Interesting idea, but there are many highly effective net jigs that are extremely simple

Net making tools

seems to me we just go back to "ritual" use and divination.

posted on Jun, 4 2014 @ 09:51 AM
This is a great follow up to my long ago thread:

History Mystery: Ancient Dodecahedron's Purpose Remains Secret: Can you tell what it is?

There are many attempts to explain what it does on that thread as well.

I think it is an Utter Protector maker.... Not gloves. Just saying

edit on 6/4/2014 by anon72 because: (no reason given)

posted on Jun, 4 2014 @ 04:54 PM
Hello, long time lurker here on one of my favourite sites. I'm really thrilled that there's a thread up here about my video. If I'd known there'd be so much interest I'd have spent a bit more time working on the video. Maybe made it a bit shorter. At the moment there's over 100 hits to it an hour. Thanks to everyone for checking it out, I'm glad it's sparked debate.

posted on Jun, 5 2014 @ 06:37 PM
a reply to: dismanrc

Actually I think I remember playing with something like that when a kid, i just tried to spin it on one of its corners it would spin for a while then falter and fall. Then I would and wonder what the point of it was, and forget about it when I got bored, I dont even know were I found it or snatched it from.

I suppose its one of them what you ma call its, a multi purpose tools.

posted on Jun, 5 2014 @ 10:26 PM
a reply to: skyblueworld

Nice! Looks like a solution to me! That he's able to make glove fingers using it, and they are found in colder climates, fits together too well to be a coincidence. Then again, if we saw one made of plastic in a craft store, seeing it as some sort of loom is likely. Seems this is one mystery solved. S&F.

posted on Jun, 7 2014 @ 12:22 AM
a reply to: skyblueworld

This would be a VERY inefficient way to make gloves. And why wouldn't anyone just fashion them from animal skin? Its a much cheaper/simpler alternative.

To me, it resembles the Jax. There is no real purpose. Its solely ornamental or possibly by a stretch used in a game. Conversation pieces make for discussion. This is a great conversation piece because it almost looks like it serves a purpose but you cant solve it. Kudos to the artist- however many generations ago.

posted on Jun, 7 2014 @ 05:56 AM
I agree It could have been an astrological calendar of some type.

I know someone mentioned the diff sized holes could represent the sun. Has anyone mapped it out against the months/zodiac and the appearance of the sun in a given month to see if the size of the holes hold any considerable type of representation to the 12 constellations of the zodiac ?

Or maybe string/rope was wrapped around the knobs to represent that astrological cycle and when it passed they moved onto the next. Again a calendar of types.

Can the string be wrapped around to create the image of the astrological constellations ?

The narrow band of the sun's path is called the Zodiac. The zodiac is recognized as the first known celestial coordinate system. The term Zodiac comes from the greek word Zodiakos which means "circle of animals." Early stargazers noticed specific stars that were grouped together and formed images of animals. These star-groupings became known as constellations and were each considered important and given special names and meanings. This "belt" of constellations is the Zodiac as we still know it today. Within the zodiac belt are the planets and the stars, which appear to move along the same path of sky as the sun does as it circles the entire earth.

The zodiac is divided into the twelve distinct sections, each section representing one of the constellations. The 12 astrological signs were born. Since we know that the sun is not physically circling the earth, as once thought, it still "appears" that way from our perspective on the earths' surface. The zodiac belt can thus be considered an "imaginary" path that the celestial bodies travel through as they make there journey around the earth.

Even though we know the sun is fixed in it's place, from an earthly observers perspective it appears to move. Let us suppose that you stood outside and gazed at the sun (not recommended) for an entire year, mesmerized, as it appeared to magically "move around the sky". You would notice that the sun travels a narrow path around the entire earth. This path is called the Ecliptic. (see image) One year in our time marks the completion of it's journey, and then of course it follows the same path around our earth again, marking another year.

zodiac in astrology

I lean heavily toward it being an astrological calendar and or type of divination device.


posted on Jun, 9 2014 @ 12:29 AM
There's quite a bit of evidence to support these were used for dice, and not for sewing gloves (as inventive as that solution might be), nor for impressing wax seals (my own suggestion).

The key might be the surrounding cultures which also had dodecahedra and icosahedra, which all seemed to have imported the concept from the ancient Greeks. Most were indeed inscribed with symbols and letters, and could be put to use for divination, games, and gambling. Once the Romans imported the concept, it's centurions stationed around the empire would have spread the idea to the known world. How local cultures would have embraced the use of such dice is anyone's guess - but they appear to have kept to the same use as the Romans - dice for games, divination and gambling.


Egyptian -
A Demotic Inscribed Icosahedron from Dakhleh Oasis
( - free preview of article

In contrast to other icosahedra known from Greco/Roman Egypt, this one is not inscribed with Greek or Latin letters or numbers but with 20 Egyptian divine names in Demotic.

Italian -

Icosahedron of Turin: the description states the idea of these polyhedra was imported in Etruria and Rome from the Greeks, and was put to use as dice in everything from games, gambling, and various forms of divination. Tarot readings were first done with die, and not cards.

The Etruscan one, (image posted earlier) has dots in place of numerals, much like modern dice. As they first imported Greek numeracy before developing their own this would make sense, to use a simple system like dots as that assures everyone could read the die.

That might be as good a reason as any why the Roman dodecahedron found further north in Europe use these peculiar holes in the faces - as you can see each hole is a different size. Europe at this time would have been much more illiterate and innumerate than their Roman counterparts and having a simple design on the faces would have made their use among the locals easier than requiring them to understand Roman numerals or letters. Another reason for using holes instead of Roman numerals (aside from the language barrier) is that etched in marks could fade with use or become too damaged to be legible. A hole would never fade and any illiterate could still understand what was showing (makes gambling much easier with the locals...)

Sorry, but after reading some of the research out there, I don't see these being used for anything else other than as die. Not as "dioptrics," knitting looms, candle holders, or wax seal embossers.

posted on Jun, 9 2014 @ 04:33 AM
a reply to: Blackmarketeer

I don't think these were Roman, for two reasons. Firstly because of the Scottish prototypes found 3000 years before the Romans had even contemplated coming over the seas, and secondly because the Romans were meticulous record keepers. It would be reasonable to assume that they would have written about these devices at some point.

The Celts were a force to be reckoned with in Europe, and there is abundant evidence to show that their metal working skills matched, if not surpassed, that of the Romans.
A good example might be this celtic helmet from 350 bc, found in France:

Ok, the Roman empire had expanded into these areas, but there were still folk living there who kept their own customs and traditions. The Romans would still acknowledge local kings etc and liked to marry their way into power too. So, for me, it's important not to assume that everything found in areas the Romans came to, are by their nature 'of the Romans'.
Incidentally, there is a superb book which explains how the so-called Roman roads were actually nothing of the sort and were in fact built by the local 'celts' in accordance with solstice lines.

In reality the Druids, the Celts scientific and spiritual leaders, were some of the most intellectually advanced thinkers of their age, it is said, who developed the straight roads in the fourth century BC...It has often been wondered how the Romans manged to build the Fosse Way, which goes from Exeter to Lincoln. They must have known what the finishing point would be, but they didn't conquer that part of Britain until decades later. How did they manage to do that if they didn't follow the Celtic road?

My guess is that these items were celtic, not Roman.

edit on 9-6-2014 by beansidhe because: Added quote

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