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The Mystery of Ancient Roman Dodecahedra

Updated on November 16, 2015
Roman dodecahedron
Roman dodecahedron | Source
Roman dodecahedron
Roman dodecahedron | Source

There are many artifacts and findings that puzzle archeologists, but some of them not only look unusual or fascinating, but actually become a mystery. Sometimes no matter how hard scientists try to find out their origin and purpose, they never get close to it.

Roman dodecahedra were first discovered about 200 years ago, in 18th century England, and since then archeologists have kept finding more and more of them. About a hundred have been found so far, while archeologists have excavated the Roman settlements in different parts of Europe. The most of these marvelous things were found in France and Germany, though there were also some discovered in Hungary, Great Britain, Luxembourg, Austria, Switzerland, and even in Italy itself. Many of these territories used to be the Roman province of Gaul in the ancient times, which makes some suggest that these strange artifacts could have something to do with the Gauls themselves. There are some theories—with no evidence to prove them, however—saying that they could be used for certain traditional religious rituals in those lands.

The most of the dodecahedra artifacts were made in the 2nd-3rd century AD, and historians are sure that during the times of their use they were considered very valuable items, for the most of them were found amount other precious objects like coins and jewelries, some were placed in treasure hoards which definitely makes them something the Ancient Romans valued. The most of them are made of bronze, some others from stone, and what is the most interesting is definitely their shape. The Roman dodecahedron, as comes from its name, has a shape of a dodecahedron geometrical figure. It has twelve flat pentagon-shaped facets, a round hole of a different diameter in each, and a spherical knob on every corner of each pentagon. The artifacts’ size varies from 4 to 11 centimeters and there are no any known mentions or depictions of them in any historical sources, which makes their origin an absolute mystery.

Roman dodecahedron
Roman dodecahedron | Source

An even more mysterious and interesting fact about these things is that there is a very similar object, though of a little bit different geometrical form: a Roman icosahedron. This artifact, single and unique in its shape, looks almost like a typical Roman dodecahedron, but there is only one hole in it and its actual geometrical shape is different. The object looks so similar to a Roman dodecahedron that it spent several years in museum storage basement before someone finally noticed that it actually has a different form.

As for the theories about what these interesting artifacts could be used for by the Romans, there are many of them, each good in their own way and can be true, and each completely lacks any evidence due to the dodecahedra never being mentioned in any historical sources. Not a long time ago a man from Britain found a dodecahedron in his garden, and, looking at it attentively, he came to the conclusion that it was probably used by the plumbers of Ancient Rome to measure the diameter of pipes. Another theory states that the dodecahedra could be used for finding out the best time for planting seeds using the astronomical knowledge that the Romans had and, therefore, was a very important object for agriculture. Although this theory has its weak spot, for all the dodecahedra are different in diameter which makes them improper for counting, math, and astronomy, for the result would always be different.

Roman dodecahedron
Roman dodecahedron | Source

Another explanation is that they were used for something like dice-games by the Roman soldiers who had to settle or spend a lot of time in military campaigns. One more version is that they were used as some kind of candleholders, for there was wax found in one of them. There are theories suggesting that these geometrical objects were nothing more than a toy for children, or a decoration, like a little work of art, and was appreciated by Romans for its unique shape and design. But whatever they truly were, the truth about it remains unknown for archeologists, historians, and respectable scientists, puzzling them and anyone else who looks at these things in an attempt to understand their purpose. In 2014 one person suggested they were used for knitting, and they even made something like a glove to prove it, using a copy of a Roman dodecahedron, though this theory has a lot of weak sides as well, and to many people and historians it looks very far-fetched.

The last Roman dodecahedron was found in France in 2011 and more will probably be found later, maybe even the explanation for their use will be found. Though for now everything we can do is to speculate about what they are and how would we use them if we would be Ancient Romans. If you are curious you can find them in a museum and take a look at them to make your own theory.

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      Scot Guariglia 17 months ago

      From my personal research this form allows for unique exploration into the nature of healing, time and space like nothing I have seen or heard of elsewhere. I have been studying related subjects for over 30 years to try and understand phenomena related to it.

      I built a pentagonal dodecahedron 7 feet across from copper pipe over 30 years ago and have had the most unusual experiences with it anyone could imagine. At the nodal points I installed quartz spheres where we see the balls attached to the Roman dodecahedron objects. This is the shape of our DNA. I have searched extensively and only found a few people who have experimented with the form and bio-field interaction with limited although similar results. Inside the form I installed a table for a person to lay upon and a sound system. It is not necessary to incorporate sound however I found music can enhance the experiences it produces.

      Life long allergies and a dependence on allergy shots were eliminated for me using this form. Effects of Reiki were amplified considerably to the point of being excessive. I have held hundreds of sessions for myself, friends and clients using it. Many have out of body experiences for the first time. One young man could physically see a different color associated with each face of the form. Most everyone feels something like a wave or tingling when reaching an arm through one of the faces of it. If there is a frequency of some sort of energy associated with this we could speculate the holes in the small objects found could correspond with those frequencies. I believe this form is an inter-dimensional gate as our DNA may be a gateway for our life-force to enter physicality from the etheric through the chakra system. I could speculate the holes should have a sacred geometrical relationship with each other and the form, to then be resonant to the frequencies of each pentagonal face. We discovered one of the top faces should face north to activate clear independent colors of all faces of the form. The young man who saw colors in each face of the form also saw light spheres passing through it into the room and they communicated with him. How bizarre is that? And that is just the beginning of a fascinating part of my life like none other.

      These sciences are abviously lacking in the general global culture today. People do not have a clue about this. Was this alchemy of the past? I once met a scientist of sacred geometry who clued me into this decades ago. He told me people would be put to death for just mentioning this form in the middle ages. We did have some very scary events happen with it and I put it away for over a decade pondering it all. I set it up a year ago and have used it sparingly recently yet never leave it completely assembled when I am not in the room with it as no one in the house can sleep well when it is completely assembled. Using it can produce profound detoxification effects as well so initial exposure to it has to be limited.

      I have always wished there was a divine manual on how to use this thing but trial and error seem to accumulate enough evidence for exploration into this unknown. If in fact these objects found were used for purposes defined today as metaphysical then every guess for their use has been significantly off target.

    • Linnea Lewis profile image
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      Linnea Lewis 2 years ago from South Carolina, USA

      VirginiaLynne, that's very interesting! I bet they look beautiful, although I have to ask: does anyone know what purpose they served? Maybe they would help answer the questions about the Rome ones.

    • VirginiaLynne profile image

      Virginia Kearney 2 years ago from United States

      These look a lot like some objects we've seen in China except that those ones are made of wood or stone and have many dodecahedrons inside the outer one--they are generally created from one piece of wood or stone and the ones in the center spin. They are often made of jade.