World’s Oldest d20 Gaming Dice
For me and many other mathlete bound geeks out there, the algebraic formulas that decide one’s fate in the world of AD&D play a great role in the enjoyment of the game. As much as I love RPG video games, there’s something about rolling some dice that makes me feel all the more invested in the adventure.
The word die (plural dice) comes from the Latin word datum, which translates to “something which is given or played.” A die is an object that can be rolled with resting points and symbols to determine something by random chance. The 20 sided die, or d20, is one of the most iconic dice for gamers. It has various symbol patterns, from 0-9 twice (giving a range of 0-18) or 1-20 (for a standard range of 1-20) or even ancient symbols for older dice. How old do you ask? Let’s take a look.
Previously thought to have originated around the time of the Roman Empire, an even older D20 has been found and is currently part of the collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC, though not displayed.
Apparently, some really rad guy named Rev. Chauncey Murch was doing missionary work in Egypt over 100 years ago, picked up this gem, and held it for his own collection until he died in 1907. The Met picked it up 3 years later.
The Egyptian d20 was dated between 304 and 30 B.C., is made from the mineral serpentine, and about 1.5″ around. Scholars have yet to figure out what game this die, or even the d20 from Roman times, was used to play. I’d like to think that they were adventuring even back them.
At least we know one thing, the Ancient Roman and Ancient Egyptian civilizations both boast accomplishments and practices WAY beyond their respective times. So the 20 sided die is no exception.
Question: What do you imagine this ancient die was used for?