Smash The Toilet!

Moderator: Moderators

Post Reply
User avatar
Jack Campin
Posts: 79
Joined: Fri Nov 23, 2012 6:26 pm
Location: Newtongrange, Midlothian, Scotland

Smash The Toilet!

Post by Jack Campin »

They spread whipworms all across Europe... ... 083458.htm

User avatar
Alan E
Posts: 327
Joined: Tue Jul 19, 2005 10:18 am
Location: Somewhere in Southern Wales now (unless elsewhere)

Re: Smash The Toilet!

Post by Alan E »

From the linked article
Piers Mitchell said: "Modern research has shown that toilets, clean drinking water and removing faeces from the streets all decrease risk of infectious disease and parasites. So we might expect the prevalence of faecal oral parasites such as whipworm and roundworm to drop in Roman times -- yet we find a gradual increase. The question is why?"
It covers several of the reasons why but surprisingly (to me) misses two:
> The 'sponge on a stick', when used must have been an excellent way of spreading intestinal parasites.
> Increased safety in travel, due to a centralised state may have increased the actual amount of travel, giving parasites fresh opportunity to infect new populations.

So it wasn't the toilets that spread disease, they just failed to limit the spread, due to the ways they were used. Ectoparasites of course have no particular preference for a greasy, dirty body - in fact lice and fleas find it easier to move through clean hair!
'till whispers fill the tower of memory...
The Exiles Company of Medieval Martial Artists:

Now teaching Fiore's art in Ceredigion (Felinfach) - pm for details

User avatar
Brother Ranulf
Post Centurion
Posts: 963
Joined: Thu Sep 20, 2007 7:46 pm
Location: Canterbury

Re: Smash The Toilet!

Post by Brother Ranulf »

I have recently been investigating low-status diet in 12th century England, which led me into the world of environmental archaeology. The high presence of intestinal parasite eggs in preserved cesspits of that period are widely associated with eating smoked or pickled fish (mainly herring, but also eels and some cod) - this kind of processing does not kill the parasites. I understand that the Romans also ate both smoked and pickled fish (and what exactly was garum made from?), so it seems possible that diet might have been a contributory factor . . .
Brother Ranulf

"Patres nostri et nos hanc insulam in brevi edomuimus in brevi nostris subdidimus legibus, nostris obsequiis mancipavimus" - Walter Espec 1138

Post Reply