Friday, January 08, 2016

Good going, ancient Romans!

THE GOOD OLD DAYS: What Did the Ancient Romans Do for Us? They Gave Us Parasites. 'Clean' ancient Romans were crawling with worms, lice and fleas despite their baths, sewage systems and toilets, study proves (Ruth Schuster, Haaretz).
The people of ancient Rome were famed not only for their licentiousness but for their sanitation. Public baths were legion throughout the Roman Empire, and the Romans are also credited with introducing toilets and sewers to European towns some 2,000 years ago. Yet the Romans turn out to have been even more worm-infested than their unwashed peers, and also compared with earlier peoples, say archaeologists.

At least they probably smelled better, says Piers Mitchell of the Cambridge Archaeology and Anthropology Department.

The reasons for the pest infestations were apparently not that they didn’t know how to bathe, but they didn't realize the way they did it and other habits of theirs supported the life-cycle of parasites.

A review of Mitchell's book is noted here. Some past posts of related interest are here, here, here, and here. And, of course, there is this.

As I have said before, the ancients lived in a world whose casual degradation and brutality is hard for us to imagine.