Where the heck did dice come from, anyway?

From your favorite casino table games to your beloved home board games, and maybe even a little of that Dungeons & Dragons if that’s what you’re into, it seems like dice are the centerpiece of a lot of games and pastimes.

And yet every time you roll the dice, you’re actually taking part in an ancient tradition that stems back hundreds of thousands of years. Sure, we might not have always had craps tables, but dice have existed in some form or another for a very, very long time, and have a long and storied history from all over the world.

One of the most interesting things about dice is that nobody can exactly pinpoint their origin. Archaeologists can’t verify exactly when and where the first-ever dice appeared, but they do know that dice-throwing appeared at almost the exact same time all over the world. Instead of gaming, different civilizations all over the planet developed dice at roughly the same time for use in things like religious rituals or divination for hunters and leaders.

Made primarily from bone, these dice came in all kinds of weird shapes and styles with numbers as high as 20, until the people of both ancient Rome and ancient China simultaneously began developing square, six-sided dice along the lines of what we use today. Travellers and merchants would bring these all over the world with them as they sailed the seas, leading to the standardization of the six-sided design.

With these dice finding popularity all over the world, the human instinct to find entertainment out of everything around us took over and games were quickly developed using these dice. Evidence exists of ancient Pharaohs using them in games of chance, and the Romans were busy developing the medieval precursor to what we know today as ‘craps’, although you probably already knew about that.

Funny enough, while dice were on their way to the modern form we all know and love now, they had a bit of a divergence on their path – dominoes! Presumed to have descended from dice in China before making their way all around the world in the 18th century, dominoes were designed to be a variant of dice used for specific games of chance and have spread in usage. Despite their creators’ intentions, dominoes have evolved their own set of games and rules over the years, and can be found in a number of gaming halls and personal games everywhere.

There’s a lot more to get into, but this is the long and short of it – and now we have all kinds of dice games to pick from. Good thing we all decided to invent them at once, right?