What's with the name?

Allow us to explain.

# The World’s Oldest Twenty-Sided Die Won’t Roll a 20 For You

Because it doesn’t have Arabic numerals on it. io9 hypothesizes that this die (and another in the same collection) that dates from the Ptolemaic Period (that’s roughly between 300 and 30 BC) is the oldest D20 in the world.

So you could role a circle with a little dash in it, or a capital H, P, N, E, B, U, K, I or even a triangle.

But not a 20.

(via Nerd Approved.)

Previously in Dice

Those are Greek letters, surely? So Theta, Eta, Rho, etc… They weren’t playing D&D, they were playing Scattergories. ;-)

• Sanjay Merchant

Either that or they were inventing calculus with polar coordinates?

• Katie Jarriel

Nerd alert: Greek writing actually uses letters as numerals, too. So Alpha = 1, Beta = 2, etc. So you could roll a natural 20 and/or slay that dungeon boss.

IIRC, there was a secret society of early mathematicians who saw the shapes we associate with D&D dice as sacred, and kept the 12 sided to themselves for seeeeeecreeet riiiiiituallllssss……

• Canisa

So it has the letters H, P, N, E, B, U and K? Each one has a 1/20 chance of being rolled, and any particular 4 letter sequence has a 1/20^4 chance of being rolled, so I have just one question for you…

Do you feel lucky, P, U, N, K?

Well, do ya?

• Anonymous

Fun fact: the number zero only dates back to 700AD (or at least, that’s when it became en vogue).