The streets of Rome stank with a stink that could kill.
And it did kill.
Streets flowed so thickly with poo-pee, that stepping blocks were provided throughout the city for people to walk on in order to avoid the filth.
Let’s just take a moment to picture that.
And what was the shoe situation?
Manolos…out. Jimmy Choo’s…no way. Yeah, okay, Roman sandals were the norm then. But seriously, sandals? Poo-pee squishing between exposed toes?
Just kill me now.
It wasn’t just public bathrooms that flooded Roman streets. Unlike Kings and Queens, who had royal poo-pee quarters in their castles, there were no bathrooms in the homes of common folk.
The nicest homes had outhouses – sheds built around a deep pit with a plank over it to sit on. However, most families shared a bucket filled with dirt which sat behind the house and was obscured by bushes, if they were lucky.
But what if you had to go at night?
And it was pouring rain? And you were pregnant? Or cripple? Or drunk, and would never make it outside in time? This called for indoor relief. And the medievals had a solution for that.
Large clay or metal pots were kept in kitchens (gag! choke!) and bedrooms of homes, and in corners of shops. When the pots became full, they would toss the globs of waste out the door or from windows into the street below.
This was common practice throughout the medieval world.
In France, they would yell, “Guardez-l’eau!” (Watch out for the water!) beforehand, so that anyone passing beneath a window or in front of a doorway, had a chance to avoid a brown and yellow shower.
By the 1st century A.D., the city of Rome began an ambitious sanitation project to save its dying citizens from increasing filth-related epidemics, and keep survivors from drowning in their own poop.
From these desperate Roman governors, came a brilliant solution: aqueducts to flush in clean water, and sewers to flush out the waste.
Let’s bow down and kiss the memory of the crusty feet of these toga-wearing ancients, because without them we’d all be swimming in our own juice!
Stop your frownin’! Be glad we’re not drownin’!
It was a nasty past-y!!