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Archaeologists discover secret treasure room containing 2,400-year-old gold and drugs

It's a question that has bedeviled moguls for millennia: Where do you put your solid gold bucket brimming with weed and coke? If you were a nomadic warlord from the 4th century B.C., you'd hide it in your secret treasure room, of course.

Archaeologists have found just such a room, containing two such objects, hidden beneath an ancient burial mound in southern Russia. The researchers dated the treasure horde to 2,400 years ago and believe it once belonged to the Scythians, a ferocious group of nomads who were contemporaries of the ancient Greeks. All in all, the room contains nearly seven pounds worth of gold artifacts like cups, rings, bracelets, and chokers. Those buckets, though, stole the show.

National Geographic reports:

[Head archaeologist] Belinski asked criminologists in nearby Stavropol to analyze a black residue inside the vessels. The results came back positive for opium and cannabis, confirming a practice first reported by Herodotus. The Greek historian claimed that the Scythians used a plant to produce smoke "that no Grecian vapour-bath can surpass … transported by the vapor, [they] shout aloud."

Because the sticky residue was found on the inside of the vessels, Belinski and Gass think they were used to brew and drink a strong opium concoction, while cannabis was burning nearby. "That both drugs were being used simultaneously is beyond doubt," Gass says. [National Geographic]

You can read more about this heady, "once-in-a-century discovery" at National Geographic.