Museo Galileo
Virtual Museum
Glass polyhedron
    • Setting:
      Room XVII
    • Maker:
    • Date:
      second half 18th cent.
    • Materials:
    • Dimensions:
      50x50x50 mm
    • Inventory:
    • Glass polyhedron (Inv. 2622)

Icosahedron (regular polyhedron, with 20 regular triangular faces). Regular solids were used to demonstrate optical and geometrical principles. From Plato onward, they also inspired a new vision of the ultimate structure of matter. In the second century C.E., the early alchemists identified earth with the cube, fire with the tetrahedron, water with the icosahedron, air with the octahedron, and the Quintessence with the dodecahedron. With the rise of chemical and mineralogical crystallography in the late Renaissance, polyhedrons took on a new function and significance.