24 Jul 2007
The words for most numbers in Etruscan are no longer up for debate because of the many inscriptions beyond just the dice that show their true mathematical values. However some numbers, the words for "six" and "four", are still being debated to this very day.
You see, from these dice, despite other notables in the field who had said before this discovery that śa means "six" and huθ means "four", we are now often told, far too confidently, the very opposite, based only on these dice, that śa means "four" and huθ means "six". Upon reading that information, the reader is expected to sleep tight and feel that they know everything they need to know. The debate is now closed...
But is it?
Unfortunately, the pattern on the dice are not as dependable as widely believed. The following link hits home a simple message, easily verifiable, which quickly uncovers a masked uncertainty in this material evidence:
As you can see by this list of photos of ancient dice discovered in various locations, there is indeed a prevalent classical pattern of "1-6, 2-5, 3-4" which would seem at first to confirm the feelings of many Etruscologists, however there are also a significant number of dice that follow other patterns like "1-3, 2-4, 5-6" and "1-2, 3-4, 5-6" showing that the debate on the proper order of the Etruscan number system, particularly concerning the words for "four" and "six" are just not resolved to any appreciable degree by these artifacts alone.