New World’s Oldest d20: Egyptian d20

Almost 10 years ago an ancient Roman d20 was found dating from 100 AD. This totally awesome 20-sided die sold at auction at Christie’s for $17,925 and at the time was the oldest d20 ever found.

Well — move over Romans, the Egyptians now take the title for the oldest d20 with this awesome ancient d20 dated from 300 to 30 BC, from the Egyptian Ptolmaic period. This sweet die is now housed in the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, and has apparently been there since 1910 without any gamer knowing.

World's oldest d20

According to the Metropolitan Museum of Art this die was collected between 1883 and 1906 from a missionary in Egypt and is a part of their Egyptian Art collection. We can only speculate on what the die was used for, but it certainly looks incredibly cool. The Egyptian d20 is carved from serpentine rock.

Many thanks to Geekologie for the heads up, and we have updated the History of Dice to include this piece as the world’s oldest d20.

1 Response

  1. It is so good that we, on this side of the pond, now have a d20 on display! I’ve yet to cover this particular find on my blog as I’m holding out until I can get over to the east coast to see it first hand. When the news broke, needless to say, I was very happy. Here is hoping to further discoveries!

    Back in the day I used to work at the British Museum who hold the ‘green’ icosahedron. Although you pointed this die to hailing from the Ptolemaic era, it is certainly worth noting that it has actually been dated within Ptolemaic-Roman periods. The Christie’s ancient die, though we settled on 2nd century as a date, could, in fact, be much older. We archaeologists tend to be a bit vague at the best of times! We know both come from the same part of Egypt that used Ancient Greek – a trait both have in common – and that does narrow it down considerably.

    All-in-all, this does lead to the strong probability, that both these dice could have been in circulation around the same time. This is where my inner geek fuses with my scholarly archaeological opinion to imagine one of those belonging to a DM and the other a level 5 fighter in his campaign. One can dream, can’t one?

    Anyway, great article and what a great blog! I stumbled here from a WP add-on and you have gained a new reader! Keep up the good work! Also, from a quick glance of your Twitter bio, it seems we come from the same neck of the woods in the rather cold Midwest!

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