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Mysterious Roman Dodecahedron

In 1739, a strange object, which looked like a dodecahedron, was unearthed in a field at Aston, Hertfordshire, England. For the uninitiated, a dodecahedron is a solid having twelve (12) equally sized pentagonal faces.

Though the object found in the field had the shape of a regular dodecahedron, it was hollow, and each of its 12 pentagonal faces had circular cut-outs of varying sizes and small globular knobs at all of the 20 vertices. Historians and archaeologists were unable to identify the purpose of this object.

Subsequently, more than 110 such objects have been found in various locations, mainly in Wales, England, Belgium, France, Germany, and Hungary. These areas (location map) were once part of the Gallo-Roman empire, hence the name "Roman dodecahedron". All these finds pertained to the 2nd to 4th centuries AD. These artefacts have sizes varying from 4 to 11 centimetres (1.6 to 4.3 inches), with holes varying in size from 6 to 40 mm (0.2 to 1.5 in). The majority of these are made of cast copper alloy, though some are of stone or silver. Many of the finds have grooves at the periphery of the circular holes and/or at the edges of the surface.

Even after the passage of almost 3 centuries, the Roman dodecahedron has remained an enigma for historians and archaeologists. There is no mention in the records/writings of that era about the artefact itself or its origin and purpose. There are many speculative theories about the purpose of these objects. Some of the conjectures are;

  • A toy for children.

  • Some sort of calendar for calculating the spring and fall equinoxes, as well as the ideal time to plant wheat, etc.

  • Candle stand. (One of the retrieved artefacts included wax residue. This, however, has been disputed, as many feel that the wax may be remnants of wax blocks which may have been used to cast these dodecahedrons.

  • Some type of device, especially for military purposes, to survey ground and determine distances or to calculate the size and distance of artillery ammunition.

  • A religious or mystical item. One artefact was found in a grave.

  • Some type of talisman, as a few of these were found along with coins and gold of that era.

  • Some sort of dice for some undiscovered game.

  • Water pipe calibration gauge.

  • An astrological tool. A dodecahedron discovered in Geneva in 1982 had the Latin names of the 12 Zodiac signs written on it.

  • Some sort of musical apparatus.

  • A tool for knitting mittens: An offbeat but plausible theory. Perhaps the holes were meant for fingers of different thicknesses. It is noteworthy to note that all the finds were in cold regions. This YouTube video shows how to knit a mitten using a dodecahedron.

Due to the unsolved mysteriousness of the Roman dodecahedron, few cities where these artefacts were discovered have erected monuments to it.

Roman dodecahedron at Hunt Museum, Limerick, Ireland.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Roman dodecahedron at the Gallo-Roman Museum of Tongeren, Belgium.

Image from Flickr is by TimeTravelRome

Monument at Tongeren, Belgium.

Image from Wikimedia Commons is by Wim Deprez

Google Street View

Monument at Schwarzenacker Roman Museum, Homburger, Germany.

Image from Wikimedia Commons is by Lokilech

Google Street View

Monument at Hamburg Station - Homburg(Saar)Hbf, Germany.

Image from Google Maps is by Chris Kubica Saarland Photography

Google Maps (Street View not available at this location.)

Source of information and more info;


A Small House on The Rock

A small house perched on a small rock in the Drina river, near the town of Bajina Bašta in Serbia.

The rock was used by local swimmers as a resting spot while swimming across the river or during the to-and-fro swim to the other bank of river. The rock used to get extremely hot in summers and couldn't be used by the swimmers. In order to make the rock more habitable in summers, two local swimmers, Milija and Milan Mandić, along with some of their friends constructed, in 1968, a simple cabin made of planks.

The cabin didn't survive for long and in the next rainy season it collapsed and the planks washed away. The two brothers and their friends rebuilt a stronger house using bulkier lumber logs and boards. The house though stable, often used to float way intact, during the rainy season due to rise in water level and strong river current and had to be towed back to the rock from few kilometres downstream.

In December 1999, the house was damaged again and was rebuilt in 2005 but didn't survive for long. Its replacement, made of concrete beams was damaged once more (7th time) in December 2010. The current house was constructed in 2011.

The house known as Drona River House gained attention and popularity during the 1994 Drina RegattaDrina Regatta with about 20,000 participants, passing right next to the house. The house is one of Serbia's most popular picture subjects. In August 2012, its picture was selected as one of National Geographic's Photo of the Day. It was also listed as one of the "16 Wacky Houses From Around The Globe" by Business Insider. Several international publications have also featured articles on it.

Image from Google Maps is by Jiri Auer

Image from Google Maps is by Lucic Vlade

Image from Flickr is by itravelanddance

Image from Google Maps is by Zeljka Secerov

Google Street View

Source of Information: Wikipedia



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