By Éadaoin Ruadh
Æthelmearc, Barony of the Rhydderich Hael
I am most certain, dear readers, that you are familiar with the mound of technological ingenuities of the Roman Empire, in both the civil and military theaters. Pieces of ancient history and scientific advancement that we still utilize in our everyday: heated floors, aqueducts, one-use javelins, (1) stabbing tyrannical rulers in groups. But a recent find out of Nouera, Italy could be unarguably the
find of the millennium. (2)
These dodecahedra began popping up in archaeological digs since 1739 throughout the modern day countries whose land at some point was part of the Roman Empire. Most were made of bronze or copper alloy, (3) though a couple gold ones were unearthed in Rome itself. (4) Scholars have tried to reason out their use ever since, which became increasingly more difficult given the diversity of features, size, and age via seriation. The eureka moment of the 2020 Nouera dig, headed by Corona Lacticiniis Regina, came out of a well-protected leather case found in the bowels of the dwelling’s bathroom. Regina expressed in her recent publication that while no dodecahedra were found in the house, the precise drawings that accompanied the records left no doubt that these were the same items. (Regina 7)
Simply put, these objects were part of a complicated network of surveillance, maintained by the plebeians. The Nouera writings outlined in detail the stages of development of this endeavor, which began with the solid dodecahedra decorated with etched, concentric circles. The writers, who call themselves Anonymi, (5) attempted to recreate the acoustic physics behind the form of an amphitheater (Armad 24). The 3D etchings would catch tidbits of far-off conversation and reflect them back to an observer standing near the dodecahedron. Anonymi were able to hang these outside their homes without suspicion, passing them off as decoration. (Regina 8-32) Of particular note, the group was so ecstatic at this first iteration that the dodecahedra essentially did turn into decorations for parties in celebration of their success.
Regulus, (6) three cups deep into the evening, almost gave away the plan to a pair of vigiles on patrol. Yesterday, we had overheard that the local fighting dog Numeri was not only his own bookkeeper, but also a scammer in throwing key fights to grab greater purses. Regulus began flailing and reenacting a potential conversation between Numeri and his lackies in the middle of the street. But Regulus’ slurred explanation and apology to the guards was seen as nothing more than drunken ramblings. (Regina 28)
But do not doubt, readers, that the Romans stopped there. Further improvements of these dodecahedra culminated in the final product of the picture above. The hollow center held a round glass orb full of salt water, and the various sizes of circles etched to particular specifications in order to zero in on different distances from its location (Regina 93). The Anonymi needed to dedicate their time to these monitoring tasks more efficiently, and so created the water memory bank. The circles would then transfer their captured data into the water, taking advantage of water’s ability to hold memories. Conversations would be later extracted after ingesting the salt water, and with the aid of hallucinogenics at secret Anonymi gatherings.
The territory over which these objects were found spans nearly all of the Roman Empire, from northern Britain to Vienna and Zagreb. Observations within the Nouera writings credit them with some of the well-known language traits of the time. The particular strain of bronze in Wales, for example, was notorious for its tinny sound that contorted various consonants into y’s and w’s. The style of Andalusian dodecahedra was comprised of at least twice the amount of circles; their dispersal muddled the recorded sounds of z, c, and s to give us the “th” today (Regina 55).
Perhaps the most important fallout of Regina’s project is the new implications this has for research on the rest of the Roman Empire. How will this knowledge change our evaluation of records already uncovered? Did the populace catch wind of the Anonymi and alter their own language as a result? Who was Anonymi, and did they code any of these findings into their writings? Longtime colleague of Regina’s and prolific conspiracy theorist Drew Burymore has published a new podcast to parse out what’s hidden between the lines. A majority of the archaeological community has reluctantly agreed the April 1st episode should be commended for its solid research into the Roman entertainment industry.
…but the intriguing and even interesting segment of Octavia arises as metaphor in Nero’s divorce. The populace thought the move wretched, yet still lauded Poppaea’s beauty. The contradictory nature of these views is undoubtedly a sign that Seneca knew about the unrest within the Anonymi, something they were unable to voice unless in a drugged stupor. Drugged. By. Poppy opium. Poppy, Poppaea. Mic drop. (7) (Burymore “A Fool of Two Cities”)
The Nouera writings are certainly making their own way onto anthropological and archaeological pedestals. But before any SCAdian attempts a recreation of either these artifacts or their audio retention methods, dear readers, I must impart that Regina’s paper warned against this path. Her work with Inglots to cast several replicas of the dodecahedrones has been famously successful, while attempts to reproduce “recordings” has led to three and a half separate hospital trips. Should future trials ever prove fruitful, however, we will no doubt see more archaeologists’ ears on the Anonymi writings, and fewer on the ground.
- Pilums were the inspiration for modern day staples, as highlighted in the flavor text on the corporate website for Staples
- Oxford Academics are currently debating whether the six-fingered glove found in Sicily in the 1920s was just as revealing, and are weirdly stuck on debating the label “revealing,” citing that the word doesn’t mean what non-Oxfordians think it means (Montoya et al 4).
- Renowned caster and hipster Brag Inglots lists these two compositions separately, but we can infer that the absence of their difference’s explanation is something we should already know (Inglots 54)
- The gold dodecahedra, or dodec-Au-hedrons, were discovered in Barcelona, Spain. As all roads lead to Rome, philosophers all agree without appeal that any find on a road within the lands of the Empire was considered to have been located in the city. (Perez 12)
- The naming of modern day MI6 agents with a particular first and given name James Bond originated from the very first spy of the Roman Empire, Una Anonymus. The name Anonymi is wittily the nomen’s plural form.
- Regina elaborates in great detail the care to which the Anonymi protected their identities, by referring to each other with different names on different days, in a pattern she is still deciphering. Regulus was one of the most frequent choices. (Regina 32-115)
- Burymore in fact dropped his microphone at the end of this rant, and ended the episode abruptly due to equipment malfunction
- Armad, Moustafa. “Acoustics: Not Just For Pigeons in Ellipses.” Howton-Muffling, 2008.
- Burymore, Drew. “What Does the Vox (actually) Say?” The Truth Unveiled. Bury More Publications. 2021.
- Curtss, Jon. Photo of 2nd Century Roman dodecahedron. Corvus Fugit, Feb 28 2021.
- Inglots, Brag. “On the Composition of Dodecahedrones.” Forgers’ Monthly, vol. 16, issue 3, May 2 2021, pp. 4-6.
- Montoya, Eneego et al. “Council of the Not Nice—Seen!” Oxford After Dark Chocolate, vol. 910, issue 7, August 26 2021, pp. 3-9.
- Perez, Jennifer. “Sweet Nothings: The Disappeared Dolces Delivery Routes.” Elsevier, 2004.
- Regina, Corona Lacticiniis. “Holey Feces: The Nouera Writings and the Gaps They Fill.” Diggers, Doers, and Dodgers, vol. 28, issue 9, July 14 2021, pp. 1-219.
Many “thank yous” go out to everyone who submitted something for the April Fool’s “Fake Research – Real Writing” challenge. Thank you for taking the time to read, and enjoy, each and every one of these articles. Aunt Æthel and I were most amused to read the creative thoughts of our artisans. We will judge all of the articles after they have been all posted on the Æthelmearc Gazette, and then announce the winner who will have the rights to brag about their win for the next year to anyone who would listen. – Caleb