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Roman Pair of Bone Gaming Dice

Roman Pair of Bone Gaming Dice

Regular price $355.00
Regular price Sale price $355.00
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The Roman Empire, c. 100-300AD.

Excellent pair of Roman Legionary six-sided gaming dice modelled in bone, known in Latin as tesserea. Each die’s side is incised with the appropriate number of dots with concentric circles around. A special drill was used to produce the dots, and the grooves were filled with black wax to make them stand out more. Dice such as these were carried all across the Roman Empire by traveling, marching legionnaires during the 100-300 AD. Small round boxes were used as throwing cups to prevent unfair manipulation of the dice. The Romans were very fond of playing with dice and various dice games were frequently played in taverns, military camps, streets and palaces. Playing dice games was particularly common at Saturnalia, the ancient Roman festival of Saturn starting 17th December. Several Roman emperors like Caligula and Commodus are known to have been inveterate players. A now-lost book 'De arte alae' (On the Art of Dice) was written by the fourth Roman Emperor Claudius.

Very good condition. Wear consistent with age and use. Surface scratches and light corrosion. Beautiful patina. Size approx. 1,0cm x 1,0cm and 1,1cm x 1,1cm. Sell as a pair.

Provenance: Private collection from Italy

For a similar examples see:

Die, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Accession Number: 97.4.117 (https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/547955)

Dice, The British Museum, Accession Number: 1900,0214.19 (https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/G_1900-0214-19)

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