Move Over Ancient Romans!: New Oldest D-20 Die Found

November 9, 2012


In news so exciting it stopped my heart and I had to chug a half dozen Monster Energy Drinks to bring myself back to life and even that didn't work so I'm dead now, a new world's oldest d20 die has been found IN EGYPT. The previous record holder was a Roman glass die from around the 2nd century AD, but this one -- this one IS EVEN OLDER. I hope you're sitting down:

Pictured above is a twenty-faced die dating from somewhere between 304 and 30 B.C., a timespan also known as Egypt's Ptolemaic Period.

So the Egyptians played Dungeons and Dragons too! No, no they didn't. I don't know what they played. Probably dead so the slave-master wouldn't make them work on the pyramid that day. Still, I can't believe they even had the skill to cut and carve things so intricately back then. Because I was just cutting up a hotdog to make beanie weenies and almost took a finger off. ALMOST. See? "No, it's gone." *puking beans and weenies*

Thanks to Sarah and jeffery, who just rolled to see who's paying for beers tonight.

  • ancientpeoples

    Dice like these would've been used for a variety of purposes, from gaming and gambling to fortune telling and, say, the division of inheritances. A roll of a die wasn't just about luck; they believed the gods had some sway over the outcome as well, hence their different uses. We posted about this die a couple of months back, and we've got some other interesting stuff on old games and ancient D20s as well, if you people are interested in this sort of thing: http://ancientpeoples.tumbl... and http://ancientpeoples.tumbl... :)

    This piece makes it sound like this die has only just been discovered, but in fact, it has been in the MET's collection since 1910. We'd also like to point out that the Egyptians didn't use slaves to build the Pyramids, and really - compared to these structures, it's really not that surprising they should know how to carve (and use) a D20. ;)

  • Bryce Herdt

    Could be for fortune telling. Roll a few times, see if it spells anything. May or may not have seen widespread use.


  • Jay

    maybe it was left by a timetraveling roleplayer.someone that wanted to go back and teach the egyptians how to make characters in DnD 20th edition

  • Hooligantuan

    Way to drop the Monster drink mention in there, you jackass wanna-be journalist. How much did they pay you for that?

  • Amory Burgess

    Lambda Lambda Lambda!

  • Sammy Grimes

    You got to stop thinking of the ancients as primitive, without them we wouldn't have had a scientific revolution and they had machinery like this:

  • luxlucetintenebris

    They were anything but primitive. It's widely recognised now that the Roman empire set us back at least 1,500 years technologically. They destroyed technology made by the Greeks and others that wasn't rediscovered until the middle ages, including steam engines!



  • luxlucetintenebris

    Nice link that gives a bit of basic info on it. When the Romans took over they just destroyed anything and everything that they couldn't see a use for.

  • Yay Hero!

  • I thought you would link to some torture equipment, thus making your pun complete. But that Antikythera is truly impressive!

  • Guest


  • Considering the icosahedron was regarded by the ancient Greeks to be a principal geometric shape in the Platonic Solids this isn't so surprising. The D8, 10, and 12 were all used by the Greeks as well.

  • THis really is amazing though, i'd like to see more shots of it if there are any.

  • ancientpeoples

    Here is another view of the die: http://ancientpeoples.tumbl...

    You can click the image and it'll lead you to the MET's database entry for this die, which will also lead you to even more ancient dice. :)

  • Konstantin

    I was going to say, "Woah, these are Greek letters." Then I remembered that Egypt was effectively run by Greeks at that time, so it makes perfect sense. Note the old style of writing Alpha on that die.

  • $18922249

    And thus the humble beginnings of thaco.

  • Harry


  • Copedizzle

    Why haven't you chugged that bleach yet?

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