A die (plural dice, from Old French dé, from Latin datum "something which is given or played") is a small throwable object with multiple resting positions, used for generating random numbers. This makes dice suitable as gambling devices for games like craps, or for use in non-gambling tabletop games.
Dice have been used throughout Asia since before recorded history; the oldest known dice were excavated as part of a 5000-year-old backgammon set at the Burnt City, an archeological site in south-eastern Iran. Other excavations from ancient tombs in the Indus Valley civilization indicate a South Asian origin. Dicing is mentioned as an Indian game in the Rigveda, Atharvaveda and Buddha games list; it also plays a critical role in the great Hindu epic Mahabharata, where Yudhisthira plays a game of dice against the Kauravas for the northern kingdom of Hastinapura, which becomes the trigger for a war. There are several biblical references to "casting lots", as in Psalm 22, indicating that dicing was commonplace in the region during King David's reign.
Dice were originally made from the talus of hoofed animals, colloquially known as "knucklebones". These are approximately tetrahedral, giving the term "bones" used for dice. Modern Mongolians still use such bones as shagai, for games and fortunetelling. Besides bone, materials like ivory, wood and recently plastics like cellulose acetate have been used. Dice are hard to differentiate from knucklebones because ancient writers confused the two, but both were used in prehistoric times.
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