23 Jan 2016

Dirty Romans

From This Way Up, 1:50 pm on 23 January 2016
Roman latrines from Lepcis Magna in Libya

Roman latrines from Lepcis Magna in Libya Photo: Craig Taylor

The Ancient Romans are credited with many illustrious inventions and technological advances in medicine, engineering, culture and construction. Aqueducts, concrete, newspapers, book binding, tourniquets, dipping medical equipment in hot water to sterilise it, the modern calendar... all down to those clever Romans!

The Romans were also at the front of the curve with waste management and public sanitation. A network of public baths, latrines and sewers and drains sprang up – but how clean did this actually make them? Piers Mitchell from the University of Cambridge has discovered that the Roman obsession with cleanliness didn't necessarily translate into better health – rhey were still riddled with all manner of lice, nits, and worms!

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