Ancient Egyptian D20 the oldest in the world?

Were the ancient Egyptians the inventors of Dungeons and Dragons?

Michelle Starr Science editor
Michelle Starr is CNET's science editor, and she hopes to get you as enthralled with the wonders of the universe as she is. When she's not daydreaming about flying through space, she's daydreaming about bats.
Michelle Starr

(Credit: The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Were the ancient Egyptians the inventors of Dungeons and Dragons?

Short answer: no. But it's fun to imagine.

Dice have been around for millennia — the numbered cubes date back at least 5000 years in Asia, and are excavated from digs all over the ancient world. However, these three pieces in the Metropolitan Museum of Art are thought to be the oldest D20s ever found, hailing back to the Ptolemaic dynasty somewhere between 340 and 30 BC.

The facets are carved with what looks like Greek letters (which makes sense, considering Egypt's long association with Greece, including rule by a Greek family — the Ptolemies), but otherwise their provenance is largely unknown. They were collected by Reverend Chauncey Murch between 1883 and 1906 while he was on missionary in Egypt. He died in 1907, and his collection was donated to the museum by his estate in 1910.

We do know that the Ancient Egyptians played board and dice games, but it is unknown what these dice were used for. We're just going to go with D&D. It's more fun that way.

You can find the three dice, with zoomable images, on the Metropolitan Museum of Art's website here, here and here.

Via io9.com