Metrology of a Bronze Age Dodecahedron

The Norton Disney Archaeology Group found an example of a “Gallo Roman Dodecahedron”. One of archaeology’s great enigmas,
there are now about 33 known examples in what was Roman occupied Britain.

An Interpretation of its Height

The opposed flat pentagons of a regular duodecagon gives us its height, in this case measured to be 70 mm. Dividing 0.070 meters by 0.3048 gives 0.22965 feet and, times 4, gives a possible type of foot as 0.91864 or 11/12 feet**.

** Where possible, one should seek the rational fraction of the foot, here 11/12, over the decimal measurement which assumed base-10 arithmetic and loses the integer factors at work within the system of ancient foot-based metrology.

The Simplest Likelihood

The Norton Disney dodecagon could relate to the many different foot modules of ancient metrology but never the meter used today to arrive at 70mm for its height.

If one sees 70mm as 1/4 of 11/12 feet, then this objects height (at 11/48 feet) would equal 2.75 standard inches. This suggests the dodecagon was designed ro a height (between opposing pentagonal faces) of two and three quarters of an inch. This implies the use of quarters of an inch, within a one foot or larger ruler – marked in inches and quarter inches.

If the dodecahedron had been measured with a tape measure, the height would have been both two and three quarter inches as well as 70 millimeters. But meters did not exist when it was made.

A Modern Resistance to Ancient Metrology

The workings above show that one should look for simple feet and inches first before using meters or other units to explain measurements which must have been foot-based. However, in the last century, archaeology has altogether rejected a widespread ancient metrology, opting instead for the the metric system of the MKS units system of modern science, and decimal meters and millimeters, for measuring sites and artifacts. Since William Flinders (1877) use of metrology, 20th century archaeology rejected any use of rationic measures based upon the English foot. This degraded the significance of prehistory as the necessary but missing prelude to the ancient near-eastern developments, that display foot based measures (Berriman, 1953). History is now thought to begin in the near east and only eventual lead to modern science. Ancient numeracy is masked because mathematics and the exact sciences are assumed to be as purely near-eastern inventions.

Using Meters hides the ancient units which were based upon Feet. This rejection of ancient metrology has given History a “glass floor” beyond which it cannot understand.

Alongside this, there is widespread disbelief in ancient astronomical alignments as having been a primary interest for ancient cultures. What has recently been learned of the ancient science has been forced to happen outside of academia, blanking out many key insights into the intellectual life of the prehistoric cultures. The failure of academia to adopt ancient techniques and reasoning, renders the monuments inscrutible and enigmatic leading to them being falsely interpreted, through ignorance of their meaningful dimensionality and the astronomical system upon which they were originally conceived.

The dodecahedron is identified as Roman but the website says:

There are no known descriptions of dodecahedra in Roman literature and therefore their purpose remains extremely unclear. They are not of a standard size, so will not be measuring devices. They don’t show signs of wear, so they are not a tool. Nor are they devices for knitting. A huge amount of time, energy and skill was taken to create our dodecahedron, so it was not used for mundane purposes, especially when alternative materials are available that would achieve the same purpose. The most likely use we think is for ritual and religious purposes.

That is, the assignment to Roman has no corroboration apart from appearing in what became Roman territories which had previously been Celtic. As is usual therefore, the usage in the absence of concrete information end up as “for ritual and religious purposes”, yet the object somehow remains Roman.
Nicholas Gier and Gail Adele write:

Of Ancient Scots, Regular Polyhedra, and their Duals

    “Even though the discovery of the regular polyhedra is attributed to the Pythagoreans, there is some fascinating evidence that they may have been known in prehistoric Scotland. (This is even more amazing if it is true that the Pythagoreans only knew three of the five regular polyhedra.) In the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford University there are five rounded stones with regularly spaced bumps.  The high points of each bump mark the vertices of each of the regular polyhedra. The stone balls also appear to demonstrate the duals of three of the regular polyhedra.  (The Greeks apparently did not know this.) For example, if the six faces of the cube become points, they become the six vertices of the octahedron. If the eight faces of the octahedron become points, they become the eight vertices of a cube. Remarkably, groves in the Ashmolean stones indicate each of the duals, including the fact that the tetrahedron is its own dual. Instead of assuming that these ancient Scots were experts in solid geometry, we have hypothesized that they must have discovered all of this by sphere stacking, which will be demonstrate later in this article.”

Finally, the video below shows a mathematical lecture in which it cannot be denied that from 5000 years ago, three-inch stone balls have been found in many locations. Three inches might have been traditional for holding in the hand so that later, in the bronze age, one might expect 2 3/4 inches for a bronze dodecahedron “with knobs on it”.

A Lecture by Tony Mann, Head of Mathematical Sciences at the University of Greenwich.
The main subject of this talk are remarkable neolithic carved stone balls found in north-east Scotland, which date from 3200-2500BCE.  They are about three inches in diameter (remarkably uniform in this respect) and are carved with patterns and knobs in symmetrical shapes.  Over four hundred have been found, mainly in Aberdeenshire. One might conclude that the ancient people who made the objects found in Scotland were aware of the five regular Platonic solids.”

In similar fashion, megalithic sites as old as 5000 BC are labelled Neolithic when the farming revolution had not, in fact, yet reached that area. This insight triggered my latest book: The Neolithic Package from the Middle East was only slowly displacing the “Goddess” cultures of Old Europe. These were matrilineal if not matriarchal tribes, which had an extended family workforce, working as a team and living off the land, without having to seasonally farm it. They would have had the human resources to accomplish the major building works now called megalithic.

The Goddess cultures appear to have had a well-developed sacred geometry and this might have embraced carved hand-held stone balls as teaching objects.

  1. BBC News Article
  2. Norton Disney Archaeology
    Extract: Norton Disney is well known for it’s connection with the Disney family. It is also not widely known that in 1949 Walt Disney visited the village whilst the filming of the Disney film “Treasure Island” was taking place in the West Country. In a 1949 copy of ”Illustrated” magazine the visit to Norton Disney was described as  “Walt was on the trail of his ancestors”. “He was on a flesh and blood quest and here lay clues”.
  3. British Museum record
  4. Wikipedia:, Platonic Solids, Roman Dodecahedron, etc

Literary References to Ancient Metrology

  1. Berriman, A. E. Historical Metrology. London: J. M. Dent and Sons, 1953.
  2. Heath, Robin, and John Michell. Lost Science of Measuring the Earth: Discovering the Sacred Geometry of the Ancients. Kempton, Ill.: Adventures Unlimited Press, 2006. Reprint edition of The Measure of Albion.
  3. Heath, Richard. Sacred Geometry: Language of the Angels. Vermont: Inner Traditions 2022.
  4. Michell, John. Ancient Metrology. Bristol, England: Pentacle Press, 1981.
  5. Neal, John. All Done with Mirrors. London: Secret Academy, 2000.
  6. —-. Ancient Metrology. Vol. 1, A Numerical Code—Metrological Continuity in Neolithic, Bronze, and Iron Age Europe. Glastonbury, England: Squeeze, 2016 – read 1.6 Pi and the World.
  7. —-. Ancient Metrology. Vol. 2, The Geographic Correlation—Arabian, Egyptian, and Chinese Metrology. Glastonbury, England: Squeeze, 2017.
  8. —-. Ancient Metrology, Vol. 3, The Worldwide Diffusion – Ancient Egyptian, and American Metrology.  The Squeeze Press: 2024.
  9. Petri, W. M. Flinders. Inductive Metrology. 1877. Reprint, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013.