Mystery of The Roman Dodecahedron

The Roman dodecahedron is a small, hollow object with a geometrical shape that has twelve flat faces. Each face is a pentagon, a five-sided shape. The Roman dodecahedron are also embellished with a series of knobs on each corner point of the pentagons, and the pentagon faces in most cases contain circular holes in them. 

Ranging from 4 to 11 centimetres (1.6 to 4.3 in) in size, they also vary in terms of textures. Most are made of bronze but some are made of stone.

About a hundred of dodecahedron have been found from Wales to Hungary and Spain and to the east of Italy, with most found in Germany and France. More than 200 years after they were first discovered, researchers are no closer to understanding the origin and function of this mysterious object.

Part of what has led to their mystery has been the speculation surrounding their use, as no classical accounts or narratives seem to mention them, let alone offer any explanation for what purpose they may have served. Among the leading theories about their practical use, archaeologists have guessed that they might be everything form gaming objects similar to multi-sided dice used in modern role playing games, to items intended to hold candlesticks or other objects. Others have speculated that they may hold religious or cultural significance, and some have gone so far as to presume they could have been useful in determining the proper times for planting various crops throughout the year.

One of the most accepted theories is that the Roman dodecahedron was used as a measuring device, more precisely as a range measuring object on the battlefield. The hypothesis is that the dodecahedron was used for calculating the trajectories of projectiles. This could explain the different sized holes in the pentagrams. A similar theory involves dodecahedra as a surveying and levelling device. However, neither of these theories has been supported by any proof and exactly how the dodecahedron could be used for these purposes has not been fully explained.


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