Throughout their reign, the Romans brought numerous contribution in the area of public facilities. Among other, the Roman constructed the first public toilets and bathhouses in Europe, numerous aqueducts to supply cities with fresh water. But according to recent research, it would seem that Roman sanitation was not quite sanitary.
At the height of its expansionary phase, which took place during the reign of Trajan, the Roman Empire covered over 5 million square kilometers and had a population of more than 5 million citizens.
According to historians, the Romans were the first to introduce in Europe the concept of public sanitation, Rome being the best example to provide in this area. Heated public bath houses, latrines, paved roads and massive aqueducts, used to transport waters over several miles, are just a couple of example of Roman ingenuity.
Also, apart from the facilities, the Roman Senate voted many laws in the area of public sanitation, such as the law enforcing the street to be cleaned of feces. Under the rule of Vespasian, circa AD 69 to AD 79, a new form of taxation on the use of latrines was enforced. This would ensure that the proper use of public facilities.
The Romans were well aware of what sanitation meant, and what would happen if certain policies regarding public health were not enforced.
But it would seem that Roman ingenuity cannot stay in the way of Nature. A team of archeologists from the University of Cambridge has discovered that roman sanitation was not quite sanitary.
Doctor Piers Mitchell, a parasitologist working for the project declared that he and his team of archeologists have discovered traces of intestinal parasites in the remains of Roman sanitation facilities.
Moreover, the doctor said that the rate of contamination with intestinal parasites such as roundworms, tapeworms, whipworms or dysentery has not decreased since the dawn of the Iron Age. On the contrary, in fact. According to their data gathered from the field, the rate of infection with intestinal parasites was higher than ever during the Roman Empire.
The team analyzed samples brought from latrines, public bath houses, burial sites or from fossilized human feces. Moreover, it would seem that intestinal parasites weren’t the only thing that affected public health.
Recent data recovered from the digging sites suggests that Romans had hard times dealing with ectoparasites, including lice and fleas. Comb fragments recovered from the burial sites revealed that the Roman citizens were performing delousings on a daily basis.
The team of scientists theorized that the booming infections might have been caused due to the Roman’s actions of using collected human feces as plant fertilizers. Also, the diseases might have been transmitted through the festering waters in public bathhouses, which were not changed frequently.