Although the Romans were civilized people, who, for those times, kept themselves quite clean, Roman public baths and toilets spread parasites like Halloween candy.
- Roman baths were not so clean
- Romans used human feces as crop fertilizer
- The Romans had as many lice as the Vikings
Ancient Rome was, according to history, a civilized oasis in a barbaric world. Their infrastructure was one of the most modern and developed ones and they had besides fountains with good drinking water, also sewer systems, public baths and latrines.
Of course, these were mostly common in Rome, but as the Roman Empire grew bigger, many of these facilities were built in the newly conquered territories. This is why we can find today remains of Roman baths in different parts of Europe or North Africa.
And since these archeological sites can offer researchers a great deal of information about how Romans lived, scientists don’t cease to dig up new discoveries. For example, a recent study published in the Parasitology journal, shows that despite being so keen on hygiene, Romans were not safe from parasites.
Scientists have compared human burials, ancient latrines and fossilized feces from Roman times with the ones in the Iron Age. Surprisingly, the number of intestinal parasites was larger in Roman times, increasing gradually as time went by.
Despite Roman sanitation technologies which should have provided them with clean water, the most spread intestinal parasites were the whipworm and the roundworm. These are developing by food contaminated with feces.
How could feces end up in food? Well, it didn’t need to be feces per say, but if food was prepared by unwashed hands or if human feces were used as a crop fertilizer, than this explains the high presence of parasites.
Another dangerous parasite which was also quite ‘popular’ was the Entamoeba histolytica. This protozoan caused dysentery which presented symptoms such as abdominal pains, fever and bloody diarrhea. This is usually contracted from human feces contaminated water.
Lice and fleas were also incredibly common regardless of hygiene as Romans had as many lice as the Vikings, whow weren’t so preoccupied with their personal hygiene.
Although the Roman sanitation technologies were helpful as Romans kept themselves clean, they weren’t of much use against infections with intestinal parasites. According to scientists, the main reason for this is they kept using human feces as fertilizers. Besides, not all baths were clean and not all the time, so people could easily contract different parasites from there as well.
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