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A Medieval poison ring used for political murders

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Bulgarian archaeologists have unearthed a medieval bronze ring that might have been used for political murders some 700 years ago.

Found at the site of a former medieval fortress in Cape Kaliakra, not far from the Black Sea coastal town of Kavarna in northeast Bulgaria, the finely crafted ring was probably worn by a male on the little finger of the right hand.


Intriguingly, it features a round, hollow cartridge decorated with granulation and an artificial hole.

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“The cartridge was adapted into the ring for the poison to be poured into a glass quite seamlessly,” the Kavarna municipality said in a statement.


Dated to the 14th century, the poison ring adds to more than 30 gold rings, earrings with pearls and other jewels found at the site since 2011.

But according to Bonnie Petrunova, head of the dig and deputy director of the National Archaeology Institute and Museum in Sofia, that piece of jewelry has no comparison in the whole of Bulgaria.

“It’s a unique ring,” Petrunova said. “I have no doubts that the hole is there on purpose and the ring was worn on the right hand, because the hole was made in such a way so as to be covered by a finger, thus the poison could be dropped at a moment’s notice.”

“Clearly, it was not worn constantly and would have been put on when necessary,” he added.


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Possibly coming from Italy or Spain, with which Bulgarian principalities had trade relations, the deadly poison was used for political murders.


Worn at a time in which Kaliakra was the capital of a principality in the Dobruja region, the poison ring most likely had a key role in the fight between Dobrotitsa, ruler of the independent Despotate of Dobrudja in the second half of the 14th century, and his son Ivanko Terter, Petrunova said.

Indeed, it could have been the secret weapon used in several 14th century serial murders.


“It would solve many of the unexplained deaths among nobles and aristocrats close to Dobrotitca,” Petrunova said.

Image: The ring with the artificially made hole. Credit: Kavarna Municipality,


This article originally appeared at Discovery News.