It would be nice to imagine the ancient Egyptians played D&D, but the reality is they didn’t. However, that doesn’t mean that ancient Egyptians didn’t play a version of the modern tabletop role-playing game (RPG). In the Metropolitan Museum of Art, three dice with twenty sides – known as the D20 die by modern RPG players – is on display that is dated back to the Ptolemaic dynasty in Egypt, or between 340 and 30 B.C. The die is carved with Greek letters on each of their twenty sides, which makes the connection to the Ptolemaic dynasty (the Ptolemies, a Greek family, ruled Egypt during that time).
While it’s a known fact that the ancient Egyptians played board and dice games, there isn’t any evidence that points to exactly what the ancient D20 dice were used for. The three twenty-sided dice were found in the late 1800′s by Reverend Murch while serving as a mercenary in Egypt, and the three pieces were donated to the museum in 1910.
You can check out the full images of the three dice on the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s website. Until more evidence is discovered as to their purpose, we will just say its fun to think the ancient Egyptians were inventive enough to use their advanced written language and society to engage in tabletop role-playing games.
Image courtesy of CNET