Even though it existed 2,000 years ago, historians know quite a bit about the Roman Empire. Between the astounding architecture and the meticulous historical records, scholars have a pretty solid understanding of how the Romans’ society functioned.
But, as with any long-gone culture, there are traditions and artifacts that often lead to more questions than answers. Case in point: the Roman dodecahedrons. Scattered across various European parts of the Roman Empire are a plethora of strange, 12-sided geometric shapes, and their origin is shrouded in mystery.
See if you can try to decipher what these puzzling objects could have been used for…
Between their architecture, language, government, and military conquests, the Roman Empire was one of the most impressive societies in history. However, there is one puzzling mystery that has historians baffled, and once you see the pictures, you’ll understand why.
The mystery involves small geometric objects that have become known as the Roman dodecahedrons. More than 100 of these strange objects have been found throughout the parts of Europe where the Roman Empire thrived.
Every dodecahedron features 12 flat, pentagonal faces, each with a hole in the middle. In turn, all of these sides connect to a hollow center. There are also minuscule knobs placed at the corners of each pentagonal face. The craftsmanship is quite impressive when you think about it. But what was their purpose?
All of the known dodecahedrons are between four and 11 centimeters wide. Although they’re extremely small, the designs were incredibly intricate. How did someone make something so tiny, yet so complicated? And why?
Many of the dodecahedrons were constructed out of bronze or other metals, but a few were made of stone. Experts have been in awe, to say the least, of their perplexing design since they were first discovered.
The purpose of these objects remains a mystery largely due to the fact that scholars can’t seem to find any classical accounts or narratives that mention them. Since so many of them have been found, one would assume that there should be a reference to them somewhere—but, strangely, this hasn’t been the case.
Over the years, there have been many different theories attempting to explain what the dodecahedrons’ purpose could have been. No one can be sure, but some experts think they have a pretty interesting theory…
Some of the speculated uses include candlestick holders (largely because a small amount of wax was found inside a few of them), flower stands, dice, fortune-telling devices, and a range-measuring tool for objects on a battlefield.
However, the most widely accepted theory for the dodecahedrons’ use is that they were religious artifacts. This is because a vast majority of them were found at Gallo-Roman sites, with one even being discovered inside of a woman’s burial ground.
The origin and purpose of the Roman dodecahedrons may never truly be known, but scholars still continue to search for answers. Hopefully, one day they might be able to shed more light on these fascinating and bizarre objects.
These dodecahedrons are so strange. Hopefully scholars can one day figure out exactly what they were used for so we can learn even more about such a marvelous society!
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