YORYM-41CD72: Roman : Dodecahedron

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Unique ID: YORYM-41CD72

Object type certainty: Certain
Workflow status: Awaiting validation Find awaiting validation

An incomplete cast copper alloy dodecahedron. The twelve-sided object is hollow (crudely cast on the interior) with flat faces and knobs at each corner. One knop has broken off and is loose. Six complete faces survive, while half of a further five faces are visible. Large circular holes of different sizes are pierced through each face, these are irregularly cut. Some of the holes have been drawn around with an incised pentagonal line. The broken edges are rough and crude. The metal is a mid greyish-green colour. Approximate width of each face: 42mm, approximate length of each face: 38mm. A very similar example ‘was found during the 19th century excavations of South Shields Roman fort (Arbeia).’ See: http://museums.ncl.ac.uk/archive/index.html Accession Number 1923.13. This example measures: Width of each face:52mm, Length of each face:48mm. The Museum of Antiquities at Newcastle states that : ‘Bronze dodecahedra have been found on many sites in the northern provinces of the Roman Empire in contexts which range from the 1st - 4th century AD.’ They add: ‘Two others are known from the north of England - from Corbridge and Newcastle upon Tyne. Their purpose has been widely discussed without any firm conclusion being reached. Suggestions have ranged from surveying instruments to candlesticks to polygonal dice. A recent suggestion is that they are sceptre heads but the argument is not conclusive and further evidence is required for these enigmatic items to be fully understood.’ See: Allason-Jones, L., and Miket, R.F., Catalogue of Small Finds from South Shields Roman Fort (1984) No. 3.741.

Find of note status

This has been noted as an interesting find by the recorder.


Broad period: ROMAN
Period from: ROMAN
Date from: Circa AD 1
Date to: Circa AD 400

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Length: 50 mm
Width: 82.4 mm
Thickness: 5.8 mm
Weight: 270 g

Discovery dates

Date(s) of discovery: Friday 5th December 2008

Personal details

Found by: This information is restricted for your login.
Recorded by: Mrs Rebecca Griffiths
Identified by: Mrs Liz Andrews-Wilson

Materials and construction

Primary material: Copper alloy
Manufacture method: Cast
Completeness: Incomplete

Spatial metadata

Region: Yorkshire and the Humber (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: East Riding of Yorkshire (Unitary Authority)
District: East Riding of Yorkshire (Unitary Authority)
To be known as: Fridaythorpe

Spatial coordinates

Grid reference source: From a paper map
Unmasked grid reference accurate to a 10 metre square.

Discovery metadata

Method of discovery: Metal detector
General landuse: Cultivated land
Specific landuse: Character undetermined

References cited

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Timeline of associated dates

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1 comment

  • Amelia Carolina Sparavigna wrote @ 11:30:17 on the 15th May 2012.

    I have discussed a possible use of a Roman Dodecahedron, a bronze artifact of gallo-roman origin, for measuring distance. A dodecahedron, found at Jublains, the ancient Nouiodunum, dating from the 2nd or 3rd century AD, is used to create a model. Looking through the model, it is possible to test it for measurements of distance based on similar triangles. See my paper on arXiv, http://arxiv.org/abs/1204.6497 Therefore the Dodecahedron can be an ancient rangefinder. On arXiv http://arxiv.org/abs/1205.2078

Audit data

Recording Institution: YORYM
Created: 10 years ago
Updated: 8 years ago

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