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Roman Plumbing: Overrated

2 years ago

184 words

Ancient Rome’s toilets, sewers, and bathhouses may have been innovative, but they didn’t do much to improve public health.

Though the ancient Romans may be more well-known for things like military prowess and leafy hats, they have also been lauded for being awesome at toilets.The book 100 Ideas That Changed the World cites the flush toilet as one of those ideas, and calls the Romans “ahead of their time” for their adoptions of public toilets.

“After the collapse of the Roman Empire, toilet technology came to a bit of a standstill,” the book reads.

The Romans did build many structures seemingly dedicated to improving sanitation—in addition to public toilets, they had bathhouses and sewer systems like the giant Cloaca Maxima in Rome.

“They [also] introduced legislation so that towns had to clear away the waste from the roads and things and take all that waste mess outside towns,” says Piers Mitchell, a paleopathologist at the University of Cambridge. “You’d expect those things to improve the health of the people that lived there as a result.”

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