Many believe that one of marijuana’s most popular vehicles, “The Bong” was invented as a result of the Hookah from Asian culture. However further research (as pointed out be a forum posting on 420 magazine.com) the bong was actually developed in Africa. They were built into the ground and had hemp leaves layered over tobacco.
The photos above are from a reddit user who claims that he found this artifact while scuba diving. Thought to be from the 18th century, this particular piece has been replicated.
The bong is probably the most popular and beloved smoking device in the history of human cannabis use. Some go as far as to name their bong. We collect and sometimes decorate our bongs, and we mourn our loss when they go to pieces. Yet, for something so precious, we know surprisingly little about the bong. And much of what we think we know about it is wrong, including the history of this wonderful device.
What you might have heard:
The bong is a descendent of the hookah. The word “bong” is derived from the Thai word ‘baung,’ which means ‘a cylindrical wooden tube, pipe or container cut from bamboo.’
This history was largely based on two factors. First, since cannabis is native to Central Asia, and has been used throughout history in China, it has always been assumed that the bong was invented in Asia. As the hookah uses water filtration like the modern bong, it was always assumed that the bong was developed from the hookah. [For those odd cases where this explanation didn’t work, it was assumed that straightening tobacco devices and filtering them through water led to the invention of the bong.]
Second, although early bongs have been discovered elsewhere, it has always been assumed that these bongs were introduced to the societies in which they were found by whomever introduced cannabis. Researchers had never seriously considered that the bong might have been invented outside of Asia. It was.
The bong was invented in Africa.
Previous studies of African smoking devices wrongly assumed that all smoking pipes radiated from the West Coast of Africa beginning when tobacco arrived on the continent. It was assumed that tobacco smoking spread across the savannah as a substitute stimulant for kola. Thus, whenever archaeologists found pipes in Africa, they automatically thought that the pipes were from 1600 CE or later. If this were true, it would mean that any African water pipe would be too young to have been invented before the hookah. But it was false. This theory completely missed the African cultures in the east and south that had been developing smoking devices before the arrival of tobacco.
We cannot be sure when cannabis first arrived in Africa, but archeologists believe that Africans smoked cannabis long before they ever smoked tobacco. J.C. Dombrowski found evidence of the earliest African cannabis smoking in Ethiopia. Eleven pipes were located in two caves and dated to between 1100 and 1400 CE. When researchers tested the pipes, they found ample cannabis residue. Here are the archaeolog