The Twelve-Sided Problem

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Amateur archaeologists recently discovered a mysterious 12-sided object in England dating back to Roman-era Britain, the latest such dodecahedron to be found that scholars call “one of archaeology’s great enigmas,” CNN reported.

The individuals uncovered the Roman dodecahedron in the county of Lincolnshire last June, describing it as one of the largest ever found. The hollow object is about three inches across and covered with 12 holes of varying sizes.

Preliminary analysis showed that it dated between 43 and 410 CE and the amateur group said it was “in a fabulous condition.”

“It’s complete, undamaged, and it clearly was considered of great value by whoever made it and by those that used it,” according to Richard Parker, secretary of the Norton Disney History and Archaeology Group that found the artifact.

Since the 18th century, professional and amateur archaeologists have found 130 Roman dodecahedrons of different sizes, including 33 in Britain.

But these oddly-shaped objects remain to this day “one of archaeology’s great enigmas.”

They are not mentioned in Roman texts, do not appear in any mosaics, and have mainly been found across the northern and western provinces of the Roman Empire – present-day Germany, France and Britain, according to the Washington Post.

Its purpose remains a contentious topic, with some theories suggesting it was used to knit gold chains, or (jokingly) as a dog treat dispenser.

However, Parker and many academics have proposed that the artifacts held religious or ritual meanings, possibly linked to local practices on the fringes of the ancient empire.

They suggested that the relic was deliberately buried where it was found, alongside a figurine of a godlike figure riding a horse, often linked to places of worship.

Parker and his organization plan to visit the excavation site again this year to better understand how the area was used.

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