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Tessera – Roman theater ticket or game token?

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Tessera from the 1st century CE
Tessera from the 1st century CE. It is located in the J. Paul Getty Museum

So far, many items with the appearance of tokens have been discovered and date back to the times of ancient Rome. Scientists refer to them as tesserae, and their function is still not fully understood to this day. The item had the image of the emperor and numbering; they were made of clay, bone or ivory.

One of the hypotheses is that tessera was the equivalent of a ticket that entitles you to enter, for example, the games or the theatre; included the number of the entrance to the amphitheater and the row.

Another idea is that the Roman government handed out tesserae to the population (tesserae frumentariae and nummariae), which the citizens could then exchange for grain or money. The most popular thesis, however, is that tesserae were used for the game.

  • William Smith, Dictionary of Greek and Roman
  • Wikipedia

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