Public baths, latrines with washing facilities, sewer systems, fountains and clean drinking water from aqueducts did not protect the ancient Romans from parasites, finds new research.
Published in the journal Parasitology, the study used archaeological evidence from cesspits, sewer drains, rubbish pits, burials and other sites to assess the impact of Romanization across Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.
Piers Mitchell from the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology of the University of Cambridge, UK, reviewed and compared the evidence for parasites before, during and after the Romans.
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Surprisingly, analysis of ancient latrines, human burials and coprolites, or fossilized feces, showed that intestinal parasites did not decrease as expected in Roman times compared with the preceding Iron Age. Actually, they gradually increased.
"The impressive sanitation technologies introduced by the Romans did not seem to have delivered the health benefits that we would expect," Mitchell told Discovery News.