Experts Unearth 2,400-Year-Old Solid Gold Bongs In Southern Russia
Archaeologists have unearthed a pair of "bongs" made of pure gold that date back to 2,400 years ago.
The historic paraphernalia, which were once used by tribal chiefs to smoke cannabis and opium, were discovered along with other items made of gold weighing almost seven pounds in total when a parcel of land in southern Russia was dug up to erect power lines.
The items belonged to Scythians, which were a fierce group of nomads that once ruled over the grasslands of Eurasia. The Scythians did not put up any cities or settlements, only huge grave mounds that are called kurgans that can be found in areas from Mongolia to the Black Sea.
The land that was disturbed to put up the power lines contained one of these kurgans, with the discovery shedding light into the adventures and drug-centered rituals that were narrated by Herodotus, a Greek historian.
According to Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation archaeologist Anton Gass, the discovery is a once-in-a-century one, as the unearthed artifacts are among the best samples that have been discovered in the region.
The discovery was initially found in 2013, but was kept as a secret to prevent the site from being looted. Andrei Belinski was the archeologist that began to excavate the kurgan, and initially, he was not optimistic that anything could be found inside the structure because it had signs that it was already plundered.
However, after a few weeks of excavating, Belinski's team discovered a thick clay layer that protected a chamber that was lined with flat and broad stones. Within the chamber were the gold items that were somehow missed by the looters when they scoured the kurgan.
Among the items were a pair of gold vessels in the shape of a bucket, and they were placed upside down in the chamber. In addition to the vessels, there were three cups, a bracelet, a finger ring and two neck rings, all of which were made of gold. In total, the well-preserved artifacts weighed almost seven pounds.
Belinski requested from criminologists to analyze the black residue that was found within the gold vessels. The results revealed that the residue was that of cannabis and opium, confirming accounts written by Herodotus of the drug-based activities of the Scythians.
Historians believe that the Scythians smoked and brewed a concoction that contained cannabis and opium, with the warriors doing so to place them in a certain state of mind before they head out to battle.
Once the gold vessels were cleaned, the surface of the items portrayed ornate decorations. One showed an image of an old man killing young warriors, while the other contained images of mythological creatures.
"I've never seen such a detailed representation of the clothing and weaponry of the Scythians," Belinski said. "It's so detailed you can see how the clothing was sewn."