Friday, December 17, 2004


Back to dice for Friday. Some readers will have heard the story of this glass die, which started my part-time work as an antiquities cataloguer. There is even a better story in the works regarding an object I've encountered not unlike the Ptolemaic icosahedron from the auction described below, and I'll be updating about that soon since I may get to take some images and make a sketch or two before the holidays.

The above die is beautifully made with lots of dye included in the fabric of the glass. Common bone dice were made from readily available material and could be drilled or marked quickly for immediate use by anyone. This die, found in Egypt (probably 2nd century in origin), would have been commissioned by someone with a love for both glass and gaming, and with some money to spend on the blue dye to mix in with the silica. After slight drillings for the pips, the holes were filled with a white faience paste, or perhaps mother-of-pearl, now largely decayed into glossy flakes and granules. I haven't figured out how to capture this yet, but like most good Roman glass, the die glows when a bright, pure light source is placed behind it.


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