A pair of dice

Here’s a technology that hasn’t changed much in at least 4000 years. The Indus Civilization was astonishing, with beautifully laid out cities, running water and waste drainage systems and a complex economy, alas, we can’t seem to crack the writing, so what we know is mostly deduction. In neighboring Mesopotamia archeologists have dug up a half million cuneiform tablets (baked in an oven they lasted a long time, and if the palace they were stored in was burned down when the city fell, they become hard as rock) and it’s guesstimated there could be a million more still in the ground, so we know incredible amounts of information about Sumerians, Babylonians, Assyrians, the nearby Hittites and, all the other peoples who recorded their thoughts, commands, gossip, prayers, transactions, histories, whatever. And what we do know of the games the mysterious Indus Civilization people were playing with these dice we might know from some Sumerian trader—probably complaining in a cuneiform tablet about being cleaned out by some Indian hustler with a pair of dice.

Terra cotta dice excavated at the site of Harappa in modern day Pakistan, 2600-1900 BC. They’re each 3.2 cm by 3.2 cm (about an inch and a quarter per side.) Currently in the Lahore Museum, Lahore, Pakistan. Unfortunately I can’t find a photo credit.

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