On a traditional pair of dice, how many dots can be found?

And the answer: 42.

If you count up the dots on one die, you'll count 6+5+4+3+2+1, which equals 21. So if you have a pair of dice, you'll have twice that, totaling 42 dots.    

Image: Shutterstock

Before there were dice made of plastic, there were astragals. These were, quite literally, the anklebones of sheep, buffalo, or other animals, and would have markings placed upon four sides. The Aztecs, Mayans, and other cultures made dice from pebbles, pottery, walnut shells, peach stones, and other similar objects. Such early dice were often used to divine what the future would hold, but not long passed before dice were discovered to make great game pieces.

Photo credit: museum.cetamuradelchianti.com

For example, archaeologists believe that the ancient Chinese played a game involving a 14-sided die made from animal tooth. A game set was discovered with 21 rectangular game pieces and numbers painted on each, as well as a broken tile that was once part of a game board decorated with "two eyes … surrounded by cloud-and-thunder patterns.” Archaeologists think the die, pieces, and board were used to play an ancient board game named "bo" or "liubo" — but the game was last popular in China around 1,500 years ago, and today nobody knows the rules.

Since the game pieces are centuries old, it's only natural that they take on many uses in modern day life. Today, there are hundreds (perhaps even thousands) of unique games involving six-sided dice — and a plethora of others which feature even more sides, dots and rules. Check out some popular dice games here.


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