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Problems with cleansing Rome

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Streets of ancient Rome
Streets of ancient Rome

During the rule of Augustus (27 BCE – 14 CE), the inhabitants of the capital of Rome “produced” 60,000 tonnes of waste every day. It was a huge call to remove all debris from the city.

Residents of the upper floors in insulin (Roman tenement houses) without separate bathrooms had to either go to one of the hundreds of public latrines or empty into a bucket. Then the dirt was either thrown out the window into the street or carried downstairs, where people were eager to collect excrement, which they then sold to farmers as fertilizer.

The authorities tried to regulate the issue of taking care of hygiene and throwing waste outside the city. In practice, however, there were too few officials to be properly audited. Ultimately, it was decided to throw all rainfall into numerous cloisters. This is evidenced by the hundreds of deep holes in the earth at Mons Esquilinus that scientists discovered. The area in which such waste pits were located had signs with warnings, e.g. “Gaius Sentius, son of Gaius, as praetor and by order of the Senate, established this border of stones to separate the area that must be free of dirt, animal debris and human bodies. It is also forbidden to smoke here”.

Problems with cleaning up the city meant that flies were flying everywhere and many residents had stomach problems.

  • Thomas R. Martin, Starożytny Rzym. Od Romulusa do Justyniana, Poznań 2014
  • Graphics: Peter Connolly, W pompejach

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