Our Cheeky Humor

It’s a classic line from Monty Python’s Life of Brian – ‘What have the Romans ever done for us?’

Well now, alongside sanitation, education, irrigation and roads it seems they also created the first practical joke device.

An incredible fourth-century Tanatalus bowl that soaked unsuspecting dinner party guests in wine could have been the earliest prankster device.

The find, which is the first known example of a ‘greedy cup’, could even have been enjoyed by Roman emperors.

‘This is the earliest example of a physical practical joke, certainly for the Romans,’ said Dr Richard Hobbs, curator of Roman Britain at the British Museum.

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An incredible fourth century Tanatalus bowl (pictured) that soaked unsuspecting dinner party guests in wine could have been the earliest prankster device

An incredible fourth-century Tanatalus bowl (pictured) that soaked unsuspecting dinner party guests in wine could have been the earliest prankster device

From the outside, this silver vessel appears to be a normal drinking mug.

However, the sculpture leads onto a pipe that causes the liquid to drain from the bottom when the bowl is filled to a certain height.

‘You can imagine this being passed to an unsuspecting dinner party guest who likes their drink and them holding it and telling a slave to fill it up with wine, and at some point it pouring all over them,’ Dr Hobbs, told The Times.

The device was found in Vinkovci, eastern Croatia, back in 2012 but it’s use was initially not known until it was examined by Dr Hobbs.

He believes it could have been owned by Roman emperors Valentinian I and his brother Valens who were born in Vinkovci.

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