6 comments on “Dodecahedron Mystery Solved?

  1. An old friend of this blog, Gordon MacLellan, wrote: “fascinating stuff, Bryan. Maybe the knitting developed like the “French knitting” (apologies to France) we used to do around nails in cotton reels.” Quite honestly I’d forgotten about French knitting at Primary School but I suspect it was the same principle. Thanks to Gordon.

  2. Pingback: Curator’s Diary 22/3/12: Of sling shots and Coptic socks | Egypt at the Manchester Museum

  3. 1) The Romans didn’t have knitting. As far as we know, knitting as it’s known today was invented in the Middle East in ~1000 CE.
    2) They did, however, have nalbinding, which they used to make socks with separate toes; if they wanted gloves, that’s how they’d have done them.
    3) We have no evidence of knitting nancies earlier than the seventeenth century.
    4) If you’re going to use something as a knitting nancy, you want pegs with slight swelling at the ends, not inverted cones or spheres, because bulgy pegs make it significantly harder to form the stitches.
    5) The dodecahedrons range in diameter from 4 to 11 cm. Four centimeters is about an inch and a half; I don’t know who could wear gloves that size, but it wouldn’t be an adult, and no one puts separate-finger gloves on an infant.
    6) Why make a complicated, expensive, heavy metal knitting nancy when a wooden disk with nails pounded around the hole in the middle works better?
    7) Stuffing the completed bits into the center of the thing is stupid, because it leads to things being all mashed up and hard to move.
    8) Your fingers aren’t all actually set on one line.
    9) No glove pattern in the world uses the same number of stitches for all five fingers and..
    10) …if one did, it wouldn’t be five, which is not nearly enough in any yarn that’s not so bulky as to be ludicrous. (If you watch the video, look at her fingers when she puts the gloves on. Does that look like something you’d want to depend on for warm hands?)
    11) How exactly does one make the “body” of the glove?
    12) The primary reason they think it was for gloves is that the holes are different sizes. However, the holes have no effect whatsoever on the size of the stitches; that’s all about the spacing of the pegs, which is the same all around.

    Source http://www.ancient-origins.net/artifacts-other-artifacts-news-unexplained-phenomena/enigma-roman-dodecahedra-002371

  4. I also wonder not just what the enduser used dodecahedrons for, but more to the point is who made them and how? They require a level of percision hard to replicate even today — much less back in the days of roman conquests. Besides, many were found with hoards of treasure — surely a knitting device wasn’t so prized?

  5. As it seems you are also a Roman soldier re-enactment member, I wonder why such little attention is paid to Roman mathematics. Did you know that although Roman written values used their cumbersome letters to represent various decimal powers of value such as the I, X, C, D for 1s, 10s 100s and 500s and several others for up to a million, they also had a bronze pocket abacus that had 7 columns with two vertical slots for increasing decimal powers from 1s to millions. The lower slot in each column had 4 beads to count 1 to 4 of that columns decade, but the upper slot had one bead that counted for 5 of that decade. That allowed every character in a written Roman number to be transferred to the abacus, and a second value to be added, subtracted or multiplied. The Romans did not have a written symbol for zero, but they were fully aware of its existence by no beads in a counted position on the abacus.

    That sane abacus had two further columns to the right for fractions, but not tenths, but twelfths and twelfths of twelfths. Not only does the 2nd column from the right count twelfths, but Romans had names for all their fraction starting at 11/12 down to 1/12, the name for 1/12 was “uncia” from which English gets the words “inch” and “ounce”. The sub- multiples included both twelfths but also included eighths (1 1/2 twelfths equals 1/8) and their fractions went as small as 1/2304 which is a sub-multiple if twelve and eight.
    There would be at least one individual who could handle these fractions in every legion, and probably an agrimensor and another in the legion. This aspect is never mentioned in books or in any presentation, but who did you think calculated the size of piles and the number needed to build a bridge across the Rhine in 5 days! Caesar’s engineers!

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