It’s no secret, our ancestors loved to get high. Marijuana use and cultivation can be traced back as far as 2737 B.C., taking place in China. Even more surprising are the tools used by ancient people to help catch their buzz. A newly discovered gravesite revealed extremely detailed, primitive, solid gold pieces that, when put together, seem to resemble a bong.
The Scythians were a dangerous nomadic group who roamed and pillaged the grasslands of Eurasia for centuries. Their drug-fueled rituals caused fear among the Greeks and Persians; the Scythians left only kurgans, large grave mounds, in their wake. Treasures were often hidden inside these mounds. Today, excavators are working to recover every artifact they can, including some prehistoric paraphernalia.
Led by archaeologist Andrei Belinski, a team of researchers explored a kurgan located in the Caucasus Mountains of southern Russia. The group wasn’t expecting to find very much of anything; the dirt mound had been previously disturbed, leading the research team to believe it had been looted. Researchers were almost positive, if any artifacts had been buried there, they had probably already been stolen.
After weeks of excavation that resulted in little findings, workers began digging under a thick layer of clay. Researchers discovered a rectangle chamber, lined with flat rocks and housing a bountiful treasure of 2,400-year-old gold; discoverers knew this was a once-in-a-lifetime event.
“We weren’t expecting to find anything like this,” Belinski said. “It was definitely a surprise for us.”
The dig resulted in two bowl-like pieces, three cups, a finger ring, two neck rings and a bracelet; the total gold weight was nearly seven pounds! Researchers noticed some of the shapes seemed to fit together, and they were lined with a black tar-like substance on the inner walls.
Testing the residue
Aware of the history of drug use in the Scythian culture, Belinski immediately contacted criminologists in Stavropol, Russia to test the black substance found inside the gold artifacts. When the results came back, excavators knew all their hard work had been worth it.
“It’s a once-in-a-century discovery,” said archaeologist Anton Gass, of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation in Berlin, who worked alongside Belinski during the excavation.
The results showed the tarry residue tested positive for both opium and marijuana. According to Gass and Belinski, the Scythian were probably drinking a strong brew made from a mixture of the two, used to induce hallucinations. They believed ganja was also being passed around and inhaled, using the two bowl-like pieces as a bong. This would explain why both residues were found on the remains.
“It’s like a detective investigation,” said Gass. “We don’t understand it all, not immediately. We need to keep digging.”
With plans to run power-lines over the area where some kurgan are located, it is likely many, many ancient artifacts will be lost due to the development of the land. By a stroke of luck, this team of archaeologists was able to recover these amazing relics; proving once more, our ancestors knew the important medical and spiritual benefits associated with cannabis.
What do you think about the discovery of a 2,400 year old, solid-gold bong? Let us know on social media or in the comments section below.