The Math Forum

Search All of the Math Forum:

Views expressed in these public forums are not endorsed by NCTM or The Math Forum.

Math Forum » Discussions » Inactive » Historia-Matematica

Notice: We are no longer accepting new posts, but the forums will continue to be readable.

Topic: [HM] Platonic solids
Replies: 6   Last Post: Jun 18, 2004 9:03 AM

Advanced Search

Back to Topic List Back to Topic List Jump to Tree View Jump to Tree View   Messages: [ Previous | Next ]
James A Landau

Posts: 217
Registered: 12/3/04
Re: [HM] Platonic solids
Posted: Jun 17, 2004 9:36 AM
  Click to see the message monospaced in plain text Plain Text   Click to reply to this topic Reply

In a message dated Wed, 16 Jun 2004 04:00:21 -0400 (EDT), John McKay
<> writes
> The so-called "platonic solids" are neither platonic nor Pythagorean.
> They were known to the inhabitants of North East Scotland in the
> late neolithic period. This is astonishingly little known.
> various collections in museums are found in UK. The Ashmolean has
> the 5 on display. See the picture in Atiyah/Sutcliffe in the
> preprint server . I would like to investigate further
> perhaps making them the subject of some video footage. Is anyone out
> there interested?

These prehistoric Platonic solids were discussed on the HM list in a thread

>Subj: [HM] "Platonic Solids" - Paleolith. Scotland?
>Date: 99-08-15 20:00:59 EDT
>From: (Robert Tragesser)
> Browsing about on the Pythagorean shelf of a "New Age" book
>store, I flipped through an outsized book I believe was titled "Sacred
>Geometry" (published by something like Shambala Press). Therein it had
>photographs of a complete set of the Platonic Solids, carved from stone
>and were said to have been discovered in a paleolithic site in Scotland.
>They were not polyhedra, but rather stone figures that clearly had the
>symmetries of the Platonic Solids, but they were composed of demi-spheres.
>As usual with such books, it didn't (seem to) have a reference.

(An interesting disagreement: McKay says "late neolithic" and Tragesser says

James Buddenhagen (5/23/00) added:
>Anyway, for those interested, here is a link to a picture of some of
>these objects:

I would like to pose a question: were these prehistoric Platonic solids used
as dice?
One wants a die to roll freely in any direction, which implies that the die
has to be a regular polyhedron. Cubes are most common, but octahedra have been
used (I believe they were called "Egyptian dice" in the circa 1960 gambling
houses in Newport, Kentucky,although that may have been a purely local term).

A little off-topic: the science fiction writer (and patent attorney) Charles
Harness once wrote a science fiction novel _The Ring of Ritornel_ in which the
plot revolves around the properties of dodecahedral dice.

- James A. Landau

Point your RSS reader here for a feed of the latest messages in this topic.

[Privacy Policy] [Terms of Use]

© The Math Forum at NCTM 1994-2018. All Rights Reserved.