Roman Toilets Aren’t Exactly Sanitary Study Shows
Ancient Rome is famously known for building edifices which people in this age and time continue to marvel at. Its glorious engineering legacy includes aqueducts, fountains, public baths and toilets, and sewer systems. But a newly published UK-based study finds many of these ancient public infrastructures grossly filled with parasites.
So the famous Roman flush latrines and aqueducts are probably overrated. Using countless archeological evidence from various Romanized European sites like sewer drains, toilets, cesspits and so on, the study revealed that no compelling evidence exists to prove the impact of Roman sanitation technologies on public health.
"The impressive sanitation technologies introduced by the Romans did not seem to have delivered the health benefits that we would expect," said Piers Mitchel of the University of Cambridge Department of Archeology and Anthropology as quoted by Discovery News.
The study also found traces of evidence suggesting that a number of parasites such as the dysentery-causing parasite, roundworm, and whipworm were widespread in Roman-occupied regions as they were in pre-Roman Europe in the Bronze and Iron Ages according to The Atlantic.
Even luxurious innovations were not spared from parasitic invasions. Ectoparasites like beg bugs, fleas, and lice were prevalent in Roman public baths as they had been during the Viking era and European middle ages with no public baths.
With these findings, illusions of sanitation-obsessed Romans are consequently dispelled.
"The Romans are famous for their interest in and dramatic improvements in sanitation, with an emphasis on regular bathing, clean drinking water, public toilets and systematic removal of human waste from towns and cities," wrote Mitchel in the study he lead authored as mentioned by The Guardian.
Mitchel pointed out that while we expect all these Roman ingenuity to improve public health, in some cases, it did not.