Humans have been engaging in glassblowing since approximately 1500 B.C. when the Egyptians created colored solid glass beads and small vases. Fragments of glass vases, created by glassblowing, were found in Mesopotamia dating to around the same time period. Also during this time period, archaeologists have found evidence of glassblowing in Greece (formerly Mycenae), and China. While different cultures have been credited with the invention of the glass pipe and glass bong, there is good evidence of the use of various types of pipes and smoking containers that appear to have been created independently from many parts of the world.
In previous centuries, glass was considered a rare and valuable item due to the difficulties in obtaining the materials and tools needed to create the glass and the arduous task of making glass itself with these primitive materials. Because of this, glass items, including pipes and containers, were owned only by pharaohs and nobility. Today, despite more efficient tools and techniques, glassblowing continues to be a very complicated task, requiring great ability and skill.
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The word “bong” originated from the Thai word “baung,” meaning a “cylindrical wooden tube” (Babylon Translation). The original bongs were likely cut from bamboo, though bongs made of other materials have also been found. In 2013 archaeologists discovered a pair of gold glass bongs once used by the Scythians, a nomadic group from Eurasia. These bongs were said to have been used by tribal leaders. A glass bong is a filtration device used to smoke tobacco or other herbs. The bong is similar in construction to the hookah pipe, but on a smaller scale. The container, or tube, itself is air and water-tight. The mouthpiece is usually at the top of the tube and is where the smoke exits the bong. The base varies in shape; including straight or bubble-shapes. The base and tube form the chamber of the bong, where the water is held. The bowl holds the tobacco or herbs and may be moved out of the way in order to clear the chamber. As one inhales the smoke goes from the bowl to the downsteam, where it forms bubbles in the water.