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FOUND: Ritual Gold Bongs from 2,400 Years Ago


The Scythians were really into gold, both for jewelry and ritual opium consumption (Photo: Д.Колосов/Wikimedia)

In southern Russia, archaeologists have dug up a small pile of gold objects used by the Scythians—including gold vessels coated with the residue of opium and cannabis, a sort of ancient bong.

These artifacts, National Geographic reports, were likely used in rituals described by the famous Greek historian Herodotus, who wrote that the Scythians were able to create a sort of smoke that “transported” them. The Scythians lived nomadically in the Eurasian steppe from the 9th century B.C.; Herodotus wrote, “According to the account which the Scythians themselves give, they are the youngest of all nations.”

The grave mound in which the gold vessels were found was first located by archaeologists in 2013, and had already been partially looted, so the discovery was not announced publicly. According to National Geographic, the archaeologists found “bucket-shaped gold vessels” filled with smaller gold objects under a “thick layer of clay.” 

Bonus finds: A slave ship that went down with slaves still aboard, a really poisonous spider across the ocean from its home, a stolen Purple Heart medal

Every day, we highlight one newly lost or found object, curiosity or wonder. Discover something unusual or amazing? Tell us about it! Send your finds to sarah.laskow@atlasobscura.com.