Tuesday, February 26, 2013

3-D Image of the World's Oldest Die

Ancient icosahedron: 3D printing ressurrects the world’s
oldest die

Feb. 19, 2013 (4:52 pm) By: Graham Templeton

While it’s unlikely that the ancient Egyptians had anything like Dungeons and Dragons (Sarcophagi and Serpents?), we’ve never been shy about misappropriating the discoveries of pre-Christian Pharaohs. Why start now? A few months ago the internet became aware of a 20-sided die carved in serpentine and dated to the first few centuries BC. Inlaid with ancient Greek symbols, it was almost certainly used for gambling and/or simple games of chance, but it was quickly heralded as the originator of the critical hit. Forget 20s — a true gamer rolls Kappas.

Now, the inevitable: a 3D-printable model of the die makes it attainable by those of us without a professional art thief on retainer. Starting at $17 and ranging to over $300, depending entirely on the materials and finishing used, this die is sure to spice up any friendly dungeon-crawl.

It is also, unfortunately, likely to confuse any such gathering of the nerds, as it features the same Ptolemaic symbols as the original. Unless you’re willing to incorporate yet another chart into your role-playing sessions, this one will likely stay on the shelf as a display.

The confluence of nerd interests, increasingly medieval printing materials, and the simplicity of a die’s design has actually led to quite a number of stylistically ancient dice. It turns out that almost any primary sold can look ruggedly ancient when made out of pitted steel.

The thorn dice have attracted a fair amount of attention, as heavy metal steampunk or caltrops D4; the sheer variety of the die designs out there should threaten the dice-making industry.

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