We have already talked about how Tel Aviv might have been the ancient party city for Egyptians, and how Egyptians even had cures for hangovers. But this time around, we move to a different part of the world, with archaeologists uncovering gold bongs-like artifacts from Russia that were probably used by tribal chiefs to ceremoniously smoke cannabis. Dated from around 4th century BC, the solid gold items are believed to be Scythian in origin. And interestingly, the researchers came across the precious finds when clearing the site for an upcoming power-line project.
To that end, this site entailed a so-called ‘kurgan’ – massive grave mounds that are found in the expansive swathe of steppes ranging all the way from Mongolia to the Black Sea coast. The kurgan in question here is located in the Caucasus Mountain region in southern Russia – a geographical area that was once inhabited by the fearsome pre-Turkic nomadic tribes of the Scythians. The archaeologists at first were a bit skeptical about the possibility of a grand discovery within this site, since it apparently showed signs of past looting. However, once the excavation started, they found a thick layer of clay, and underneath this strata they came across a 7 lbs (or 3.2 kg) weighing ‘hoard’ comprising – two bucket-shaped gold vessels, three gold cups, a gold bracelet, and a heavy gold ring.
As for the aforementioned ‘bongs’, the experts did come across a black residue on the inside portion of one of the vessels. On further analysis of the substance (by criminologists), the results showed that the residues had been formed by opium and cannabis, thus conforming to the ancient account given by Herodotus where he talked about such cannabis-smoke – “that no Grecian vapor-bath can surpass…transported by the vapor, [they] shout aloud.” Moreover, as is evident from the discovery, the Scythian tribal leaders most probably used to brew a strong opium concoction , which was then consumed simultaneously along with the potent cannabis smoke.
Now, beyond just the drug-fueled escapades, the Scythians could also boast of brilliant craftsmanship. In that regard, the researchers came across some fascinating depictions of Scythian art on the gold objects (once the residue was cleaned off). These depictions and etchings pertained to both mythical and human subjects, like griffons devouring a horse and a stag, or a man attacking one of his compatriots. The numerous details relating to the authentic dressing styles and physical appearances of the nomads, were quite impressive, as judged by the historians. Stavropol-based archaeologist Andrei Belinski, made it clear –
I’ve never seen such a detailed representation of the clothing and weaponry of the Scythians. It’s so detailed you can see how the clothing was sewn.
Source: National Geographic
Images Credit: Andrei Belinski