Our Oldest Known Straws Are for Beer and Are Made of Gold

Today, a straw made of precious metal like silver or gold might seem like an extravagance. But really, if you sipped out of one, you’d be paying homage to our oldest known straws. Recently, scientists identified golden and silver tubes, long considered scepters or canopy poles, as the oldest-ever drinking straws around. And what did ancient man sip through his expensive straw? Most likely, beer.

Oldest Known Straws made of silver and gold used to drink beer with border
Science X/Cambridge University Press/Antiquity (2022). DOI: 10.15184/aqy.2021.22

A study in Antiquity published by Cambridge University Press details more about the research. Researchers found these old straws back in 1897. Proving that scientific knowledge never stops evolving. The scientists discovered them in the Bronze Age Maikop kurgan, located in the Caucuses. The Maikop kurgan is “one of the most richly furnished prehistoric burial mounds.” According to a release shared on, it contained hundreds of precious objects. Including, of course, the oldest straws known to man.

The study shares:

Re-examination of these objects…suggests they were used as tubes for the communal drinking of beer, with integral filters to remove impurities. If correct, these objects represent the earliest material evidence of drinking through long tubes—a practice that became common during feasts in the third and second millennia BC in the ancient Near East.

Gold and silver tubes to sip some beer? We feel like the Sumerians had the right idea.

Close up look at one of the oldest straws ever found
Science X/Cambridge University Press/Antiquity (2022). DOI: 10.15184/aqy.2021.22

The release notes that “drinking beer through long straws became common practice in the early Mesopotamian civilization of Sumeria from the third millennium BC onward. Art depicts multiple long straws placed in a communal vessel, allowing people standing or sitting nearby to drink together.”

The researchers also found metal strainers in the straws, likely used to filter out impurities in ancient beer. As well as the residue of barley starch granules on the inner surface of one of the straws. Although they cannot confirm the barley underwent fermentation.

People drinking beer out of ancient straws
Science X/Cambridge University Press/Antiquity (2022). DOI: 10.15184/aqy.2021.22

These straws provide information both from an archeological and cultural perspective. They highlight the importance of  “the ritual banquets’ early beginnings and drinking culture,” according to Dr. Trifonov, the lead author of the study.

“Before having done this study, I would never have believed that in the most famous elite burial of the Early Bronze Age Caucasus, the main item would be neither weapons nor jewelry, but a set of precious beer-drinking straws.”

Well, there you have it. You just never know what will amaze future civilizations. But consider us amazed. We’d like to order a set of cool drinking straws, stat. Maybe in 5,000 years, someone will truly appreciate them.

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