Apart from cards, dice are perhaps the most basic pieces used in gambling. It is probably safe to assume that as long as there have been dice, there has been gambling. However, you might be surprised at some of the fun facts you’ve never heard about these common six sided objects. So fish out a pair of dice from your cluttered “junk” drawer and observe them in a new light by reading these weird facts. One: Cubed Ankle Bones Archeological findings discovered in ancient Egyptian burial sites indicate that dice-like objects were in use during and perhaps before the year 2,000 b.c. The earliest dice were, obviously, not made from the plastic molding that is in such abundance today. Instead, early civilizations carved out the ankle bones of animals (like sheep) to create a hard little gizmo to throw in the air. Small circles were inscribed on the ankle bones to delineate the differing sides. Two: Predicting the Future Did you know people used to use a pair of gambling dice to make predictions about the future? Foretelling the future may appear to be an overly serious task for such a small and seemingly insignificant cube; however, ancient civilizations really did place their futures on the line when they tossed the dice. Dice may have been considered magical or possessed by these civilizations. Would you trust your future to a pair of dice? While we appreciate a good bet, we doubt that this is a good idea nowadays. Sources indicate that in some early civilizations dice were used to determine the name of a newborn child. While we don’t understand how one would determine a human being’s name by the number of dots on a surface, we do admit that this solution must have taken a lot of the tension out of name choosing. If you are concerned about your husband or wife’s affinity for a certain not-so-great-in-your-opinion name, then maybe this is the best route for you to take. But probably not… Three: China Was First Again So where did the six sided dice that we are familiar with today originate? That’s right, the same place where paper, printing, gunpowder, and compasses originated; China can add yet another arrow to it’s quiver of accomplishments and lay claim to the creation of the six sided dice. But then, a place that’s been around for 200,000 years has had plenty of time to come up with this entertaining little object we know as the dice. Four: Marco Rolled the Dice The nifty invention of the Chinese most likely made it’s way to the Americas in one of Marco Polo’s parcels. He probably introduced the dice to the royal court in Europe when he arrived back from his adventures in the orient. From there on, the little cube picked up popularity and spread throughout the Americas. Introduced in the 14th century, dice are still found flourishing in drawers and gaming cabinets all over the United States. Five: Big Words for a Small Object Decahedron sounds more like the name of a large, spiky prehistoric dinosaur than the name for a 10 sided dice. However, the fact remains: a dodecahedron is another word for a 10 sided dice, a dodecahedron is what you call a dice with 12 sides, and a dice with 20 sides is called (whew!) an icosahedron. Luckily, you will probably not have to worry about all of this fancy terminology since most dice with more than six sides are mostly rolled during games involving role-play. One hardly needs a dice with an overly fancy name to play a round of Texas Hold ‘Em. But hey, at least you feel a little more enlightened now than you did about ten minutes ago (before reading this article). Six: The Dots Have Names Too If you want to get really technical, then we ought to inform you that the “dots” on the side of the dice planes are not really called dots. They are called pips. If you didn’t know better, you may have guessed that a pip is a British snack food; however, a pip is actually the name for each individual dot on a dice’s face. Now you know. Seven: Dice Math Did you know that any two opposite sides on a dice will add up to equal the number seven? One and six, two and five, and three and four each make combinations of seven. This explains why seven is the most commonly rolled number when rolling two dice. If you’re looking to roll a seven, grab two dice and give it a go; the odds are in your favor. Eight: Historic Roles Dice have been around for a very long time and are documented in many unlikely places throughout history. You don’t have to look very far to see gambling in the history of mankind. Examples can be found in the words of conquerors and in the Holy Books on church pews: An infamous phrase was uttered by Julius Caesar as he crossed the Rubicon stream: “Jacta alea est”. Caesar made the statement in the style of a simple metaphor to express that there was no returning after crossing the river. When translated, his famous proclamation means “the die is cast”. Gambling with dice is even mentioned (more than once) in the Bible. The most well-known scene involves a group of Roman soldiers “casting lots” beneath the cross of Jesus; a dramatic scene that depicts the Christ’s love for such a motley crew of soldiers - even as they gambled for his personal belongings. Dice are everywhere, and they are one of the most basic pieces of the gambling picture. However, you shouldn’t let their common-place image fool you. They are full of fun historical, mathematical, and silly facts. If nothing else, the dice in your hand is worth learning about simply because it deserves a little credit. For such a small little six-sided object, it’s come a long way. So blow the dust off of your favorite pair of dice and give them a spin - they deserve some action.