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The question of the week: "Who invented the cube?"


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The question of the week: "Who invented the cube?"

Every Saturday we answer your questions on all kinds of topics. Today Lukas S. from Pettendorf asks us: Who invented the cube? Here's the answer ...

Dice games were popular in ancient times. In retrospect, it is no longer possible to determine who invented the cube or who first used it. It is certain that there was an ancient Iranian board game as early as 3000 BC, of ​​which a dice was an integral part. Even then, the cube was marked with dots, the so-called eyes.

Widespread in the Orient

In ancient Egypt, too, there were board games in which cube-like objects as well as throwing sticks or the ankle bones of sheep and goats decided about luck and bad luck. Independently of this, India developed its own cube shape. Here the nuts of the Vibhidaka tree were used as a five-sided cube.
Cubes with numbers and letters

The cube came to the Greeks and Romans via the Orient. Even then, there were variants of the six-sided cube with 6, 8, 12, 20 or 24 reclining positions. For example, clay, ivory, metal, glass or bone were used as materials. Cubes with words and letters instead of eyes were also known and were mainly used for oracles and fortune-telling.

Photo: Cube was and is still available in different versions and materials.

Vicious gambling

The dice game spread throughout Europe through the Roman soldiers. Playhouses are mentioned in writing from the 13th century. Here, as in casinos today, you could win or lose money with dice. Gambling has always been frowned upon. Already in ancient Rome it was forbidden outside of fixed feast days. In the Middle Ages, the cube was considered the devil's invention because it distracted godly people from their day-to-day work.

Illustration: A preform of backgammon, which combines game pieces and dice, was already known in the Middle Ages.

Marked dice

Wherever there was gambling, there was also cheating. Professionals knew different ways to manipulate the cube without the other person noticing.

Photo: It was even easier to cheat with the help of a dice cup. So it was not noticed that the falling properties of the cube were changed.

This made it possible to round the edges of the cube or to change the weight distribution within the cube and thus influence the properties of the fall. Such a dice was called marked.

Pure dice games like Kniffel or Mäxchen still exist today. However, parlor games in which at least one dice acts as a random generator decides the course of the game are now more widespread. A special variant of the cube is the magic cube, which was invented in 1980 by the Hungarian architect Ernö Rubik. In the three-dimensional, mechanical game of patience, it is important to arrange the sides of the cube according to color by skillful rotating movements. Here, less luck is decisive than strategy.

Nic 16.1.2013 / images: pd

Note: All images and links have been removed from the archive