We know that plastic in the sea is a problem. Plastic straws are one of the most polluting elements. They damage marine life irreparably. Who invented them? Well, they weren’t made of plastic to begin with, of course. The oldest straws in the world were made of gold and silver.
They were found in 1897. The expedition of the Russian archaeologist Nikolai Veselovsky discovered them in Maikop in the Caucasus. It was a Bronze Age burial mound. Among other artifacts, it contained eight gold and silver scepters. What they were was not known for more than a century. A team of researchers finally managed to find out what they were for.
At first, archaeologists had another theory. What were the unusual collapsible, hollow tubes, more than a meter long, for? They are decorated with bull figurines. They were thought to be used as scepters or as part of a funerary canopy.
However, a recent study refuted those hypotheses. A team of researchers subjected the scepters to an analysis. And found plant residues on the inner surface of one of them. The archaeologists came to a surprising conclusion. They were probably used to consume fermented beverages, such as beer. Some of them have a kind of filter. They are the oldest straws in the world.
The ancient inhabitants of the Caucasus consumed beer in the Sumerian style. This is the opinion of the authors of the study. There are several pieces of Mesopotamian art that prove it. They show people drinking beer from a common vessel with long straws. But this is the first time archaeologists have discovered the straws themselves.
“We believe the interpretation is correct. These objects represent the oldest material evidence of consuming drinks with long straws. It is a practice that became common at feasts in the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC. It was practiced in the ancient Near East,” conclude the archaeologists.