When dealing with items in museum collections or newly discovered artifacts at archaeological digs, it’s easy to get excited and want a close look. However, sometimes, these objects of interest contain deadly surprises. They may be covered in poisonous material or have a lethal substance hidden within.
In the past, toxic chemicals were sometimes used in everyday items, such as asbestos being used in a multitude of daily goods before its detrimental health effects were discovered. Poisons were also used throughout historyin order to, for example, get rid of political rivals or problematic lovers. So sometimes, items discovered today are revealed to be deadly to those who handle them or to hide secret poisons. Archaeology, Archaeology, Archaeology
10. Suicide Glasses
The International Spy Museum in Washington, DC, has a pair of glasses with a sneaky little secret. Inside the temple tip, there is a small cyanide pillthat, if ingested, is deadly. Ancient history, Ancient history, Ancient history
If a secret agent was captured and was at risk of giving up classified information, they could casually start chewing on their glasses. This would release the pill inside the plastic, resulting in a swift death for the agent and protection of their secrets. These glasses are traced back to the CIA, though similar items would have been used by other agencies, too. Archaeology, Archaeology, Archaeology
9. Assassin’s Book
In 2008, a German auction house listed a 17th-century faux book that concealed an array of poisons. The book had all its pages glued together, with the inside carved out. Instead, 11 small drawers were placed there, each with a label naming a poisonous plant. The book also contained a small green jar and a drawing of a skeleton. Ancient history, Ancient history, Ancient history
The drawers were empty, and an analysis of any residual traces of poison has yet to be conducted, but the book has been speculated to have belonged to an assassin. As it is from a time when poison and medicine were highly similar, it has also been theorized to have belonged to a healer. However, three of the drawers list wolfsbane, cowbane, and spurge laurel, which are highly toxic and were not, that we know of, used for medicinal purposes at the time.