5 Really Peculiar Things That Took Place in Ancient Rome

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FeaturedRome Ancient Rome is often thought to be one of the cradles of modern civilization but those ancient Romans did some pretty strange stuff from a modern perspective.

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Here are 5 really peculiar things that took place in Ancient Rome:

They Brushed Their Teeth With Urine

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Urine was really useful stuff in the ancient world and it was never wasted. It was put to work in tanning, cleaning, and as fertilizer but one of the strangest uses for urine was as a teeth whitener. The Romans would collect their pee in pots. The pot was then taken and emptied into a cesspool. The cesspools were then drained and the contents sold off to any business that was prepared to pay a “urine tax” (no we’re not taking the pee here). Urine was then used as a mouthwash. Why? Because the ammonia in urine acts a mild bleach and removes stains from teeth.

Their Toilets Were Deadly

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https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ostia-Toilets.JPG

Before the introduction of modern sanitation; a toilet could be a pretty horrifying place to be. A roman toilet was basically a hole in the ground (or many holes in the ground) over an open sewer. This wasn’t the healthiest of environments. Rats were known to occasionally take a bite out of the exposed buttocks of a citizen on the throne. Worse, the decaying waste would produce methane and if a citizen were foolish enough to create a spark or take a torch so they could read on the potty – the ensuing explosion could kill.

There Was No Toilet Paper So They Shared A Stick

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https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AXylospongium.jpg

There was no paper to wipe with in Ancient Rome; so once you’d finished your “business” on the toilet – you had to wipe with something else. In many cases, this would be a sponge (the sea creature was easily harvested in the seas around the empire) which was placed on the end of a stick. Disturbingly, sponges weren’t cheap and you didn’t get a personal stick with your own sponge instead you’d have to share it with other people. This explains a lot of the disease that was prevalent in ancient times.

People Vomited on the Dinner Table

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https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pompeii_-_Casa_dei_Casti_Amanti_-_Banquet.jpg

Roman feasts (and orgies) were designed to be spectacles of excess. You turned up and gorged yourself endlessly until you couldn’t eat anymore. Then when you’d had your fill; you didn’t go home. You put your fingers down your throat and threw it all back up again so you could eat some more. You didn’t do this in private or in the bathroom but rather in a bowl placed on the table for exactly that purpose.

They Drank Goat Dung for Energy

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https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ADung_of_Goat.jpg

Yes, another scatological fact – the Romans liked to use goat dung for a variety of things. They would use it mainly as a medicinal aid to be packed into bleeding wounds; there was a preference for dry, old dung but in a pinch, it was also used fresh from the goat too. Powdered dung was also used in an energy drink which was consumed by charioteers in combat to  avoid exhaustion.

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