Archaeologists have uncovered 2,400-year-old golden bongs used by royalty to smoke cannabis and opium in Russia. The bongs were uncovered in a secret chamber covered with clay by construction workers during excavations to install power lines. The ancient paraphernalia was found alongside 7 lbs of other gold items—three gold cups, a heavy gold finger ring, two neck rings, and a gold bracelet.
Experts believe the bongs to be the oldest in existence—used by Scythians, an ancient Iranian nomadic people who dominated the Eurasian grasslands for almost 1,000 years, roughly 800 BC to 300 AD.
The haul of bongs and jewelry.
The bongs contained a thick black residue which on examination was found to be a mix of cannabis and opium. Cannabis played an important part in the Scythian religion—smoked as a way to induce a state of trance and help with divination. It is believed this potent mix was smoked by Scythian kings before leading their armies into battle. The ancient Greek historian Herodotus (484 BC-425 BC) wrote:
“The Scythians used a plant to produce smoke that no Grecian vapour-bath can surpass” and that “transported by the vapour, [they] shout aloud.”
Antonn Gass, of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, in Berlin, Germany, believes that the Scythians used both drugs is “beyond doubt.”
“It’s a once-in-a-century discovery, these are among the finest objects we know from the region.”
The ornate bongs also tell a story. One shows a bearded man killing young warrior—or perhaps a jealous husband slaying a rival lover or son; while, the other has mythological creatures on it, including griffons ripping apart a horse and a stag—the Scythians had seven gods in their religion and sacrificed animals to them.
Painting of the ‘Battle between the Scythians and the Slavs’ by Viktor Vasnetsov, 1881.
The Scythians were known as notoriously aggressive warriors, who “fought to live and lived to fight” and were said to drink “the blood of their enemies and used the scalps as napkins.” They practiced guerilla warfare and were famed as archers—using arrows with poisonous tips to conquer their enemies.
The haul of treasure was found in a kurgan (burial mound) in the Caucasus Mountains of southern Russia, in 2013. Due to fear of looters raiding the site, the find was kept quiet. Now the bongs and jewelry have been cleaned up and are to be exhibited in a Russian museum.
Via Daily Express, Daily Mail, and ZME Science.