Pair of Roman Bone Dice
A pair of ancient Roman bone six-sided dice.
Ca. 1st century BC - 4th century AD.
Gambling with dice (latin: tesserae), though actually illegal except during the festival of the Saturnalia, was a very popular pastime among the Romans. When four dice were thrown, the highest roll was Venus (four sixes), the lowest was canis (four ones). Dice were also used in a variety of board games like Duodecim Scripta.
Cf.: Naples Museum, inv. 552, 115530, 116480, 119371, illustrated in, Pompeii, AD 79, (Boston, 1978), p. 193; also, J.P.V.D. Balsdon, Life and Leasure in Ancient Rome, (New York, 1969), p. 1566.
Formerly in a California private collection.