New York Museum Boasts 2,000-Year-Old Ancient Egyptian d20

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New York Museum Boasts 2,000-Year-Old Ancient Egyptian d20

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Next time you swing your +3 flaming longsword at an owlbear, you may be following in the footsteps of pharaohs.

If Scooby Doo is to be believed, the ancient Egyptians spent most of their time cursing mummies, booby-trapping pyramids, and summoning Anubis. According to more recent advances in anthropology, however, many of them were just everyday Joes (in this case, maybe Thutmoses) hanging out, just trying to have a good time like everyone else in history. Perhaps that explains this nifty ancient d20 straight out of Egypt's Ptolemaic period currently at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The die is made of a mineral called serpentine, an ultramafic rock fairly common to ancient architecture and sculpture. The carvings on each face are Greek in origin-there's pretty clearly a lambda, delta, beta, theta, and some others in the pictures-which depending on context can either represent a letter or number. Unfortunately, we're not exactly how this particular die was meant to be used, but do know the Egyptians were pretty significant gamers, as far as ancient civilizations go.

While housed at the Met, the d20 is sadly not currently on display. I'm sure if you asked one of the curators, he or she would tell you something about exhibit schedules and space considerations, but I like to think those jerks are just in the back room during lunch breaks trying to roll natural kappas in their ongoing game of Sarcophagi and Sphinxes.

Source: CNET

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So nerds ARE capable of reproduction!

So instead of Dungeons and Dragons was it Pyramids and Sphinxes?

DO NOT ROLL IT! THE ANCIENT MAGICS WILL BE UNLEASHED!

"You are on the east bank of the Nile. You hear a rustling sound behind you. Roll initiative."

Where can we get a replica?

digital warrior:
DO NOT ROLL IT! THE ANCIENT MAGICS WILL BE UNLEASHED!

No.

DO ROLL IT! THE ANCIENT MAGICS WILL BE UNLEASHED!

Hell yeah geeks have ancient precedent!

I now imagine some eccentric billionaire buying it for his D&D campaign.

Baldry:
So instead of Dungeons and Dragons was it Pyramids and Sphinxes?

The mage in your party passed the Knowledge Arcane check.

He tells you that it would still be Dungeons and Dragons, or more like Tombs and Dragons.

The ancient Egyptians had allot of Dragons too.

They even had their own mythology featuring them like Apep, the dragon/snake that lay in wait to attempt to kill Horus every time he died and had to pass through the underworld, which was everyday at sunset. They explained the Red colour of the sun rising at dusk as the blood of that dragon being wounded and retreating.

What do you want to do next?

Neat! From what I can remember from a couple books I read, the Ancient Egyptians were big on games. Ever seen Yu-Gi-Oh?

...Okay, bad example.

How could a children's dice game have such historical significance?

Twenty bucks says Thinkgeek will have a replica of this for sale within six months.

It appears that you're getting mind-flayed by a giant cthulusphinx.

Roll a Will Save.

...

Oooooooh, you landed on lambda?

You're shit out of luck sunshine

I wonder if this is a one of a kind or part of a Set...

So wait, the Egyptians were into D&D back then? Awesome!

What's next? They will find a tabletop game and some figures to go alongside it?

Scarim Coral:
So wait, the Egyptians were in D&D back then? Awesome!

What's next? They will find a tabletop game and some figures to go alongside it?

That would be freaking awesome! and if not, I'm sure some brilliant artist/ carpenter will build some to go with it.

frizzlebyte:
Twenty bucks says Thinkgeek will have a replica of this for sale within six months.

I hope so. Or Chessex. Someone needs to make a replica, because I WANT IT!

It's the Knucklebone of Fickle Fortune!!!!

It'd be hilarious if it turns out that this was used to determine who they were going to kill each day. Number 4, please step up here!

I wonder if the default shape of an Egyptian die is a D20. The modern die is usually a D6 but ancient cultures could have had entirely different norms.

Twilight_guy:
I wonder if the default shape of an Egyptian die is a D20. The modern die is usually a D6 but ancient cultures could have had entirely different norms.

Astonishingly, the Ancient Egyptians, much like us, had a base 10 number system but their regular dice tended to not be a whole lot different. In the spoiler is an example of ancient Egyptian dice but it could also be a modern kid's work.

The Sumer culture around 3000 BC already had dice practically looking like ours, even with the eye thing where the opposing sides add up to 7. But they had a base 6 number system so it'd be the most reasonable thing to invent a 6-sided die.
Another fun fact: the oldest non-"regular" die ever found is from about 2600 BC, Sumer as well and is actually a d4.

Aaaaand I'm still going! At around 1500 BC in India they started to independently from the Sumers develop dice for ritual and casual gaming where they used the nuts of the beleric tree, which are five-sided. This is also referenced in the Indian epic Mahabharata. And in another Indian epic, the Jataka, written around 400 BC, they refer to the use of four-sided dice.

A D20 in ancient Egypt? I'm not saying it was aliens.

So nerds are an ancient race? I KNEW I WAS DIFFERENT!

Mike Kayatta:
but I like to think those jerks are just in the back room during lunch breaks trying to roll natural kappas in their ongoing game of Sarcophagi and Sphinxes.

That made me actually laugh, so you get a cookie.

They didn't play Warhammer 40K, they played Warhammer 2K

Jokes aside I wonder what was around it? If they actually knew what game it was from it could even kick off a new gaming trend in the modern world.

Well I'm obviously a descendant of the ancient Egyptians.

1337mokro:
the sun rising at dusk

What? I'm pretty sure the sun doesn't rise at dusk. You mean dawn right?

CrazyGirl17:
Neat! From what I can remember from a couple books I read, the Ancient Egyptians were big on games. Ever seen Yu-Gi-Oh?

edit: Well yugioh did have bunch plot points related to ancient Egypt in the tv show

They did have dungeon dice monsters in Yu-gi-oh so...why not? :P

Who wants to bet that thing's weighted? Rolln' omegas all day long!

1337mokro:

Baldry:
So instead of Dungeons and Dragons was it Pyramids and Sphinxes?

The mage in your party passed the Knowledge Arcane check.

He tells you that it would still be Dungeons and Dragons, or more like Tombs and Dragons.

The ancient Egyptians had allot of Dragons too.

They even had their own mythology featuring them like Apep, the dragon/snake that lay in wait to attempt to kill Horus every time he died and had to pass through the underworld, which was everyday at sunset. They explained the Red colour of the sun rising at dusk as the blood of that dragon being wounded and retreating.

What do you want to do next?

I use counter argument.

The thing about "Egyptian Dragons" is more often then not they're serpents, sure the ones with wings could be considered dragons but more then anything they're winged serpents. Also if you look at images of most Egyptian Gods that could be considered dragons they don't really look like dragons, some look like cats and some look like straight up snakes.

Must plan museum heist now.

Grouchy Imp:
I wonder if this is a one of a kind or part of a Set...

The groans from this have left so many voices Horus.

Notsomuch:
A D20 in ancient Egypt? I'm not saying it was aliens.

time travelling D&D nerd obviously

*raises eyebrow* captcha : know your paradoxes... ok then :-|

Grouchy Imp:
I wonder if this is a one of a kind or part of a Set...

I laughed so hard I may have to set an appointment with my cairopractor.

Heh, some actually not terrible puns cropping up.

One thing is for sure: this definitely proves 'prior art' against WotC claim to own everything role playing and card related, ever.

Ok, now I confirm the critical with my vorpal khophesh on the Canaanite, killing him. How much XP is he worth again?

please tell me that there are duplicates in the gift shop....

...Maybe all their tomes,Book of the Dead etc, were just ancient rulebooks

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