The Disposal of Human Waste: A comparison between Ancient Rome and Medieval London
By Craig Taylor
Past Imperfect, Vol.11 (2005)
Abstract: The disposal of sewage is a luxury many societies generally take for granted. It is an aspect of ancient life often ignored and it is the purpose of this paper to recognize and understand how sewage was collected and disposed of in particular cases. This essay examines the waste disposal options used in Ancient Rome and Medieval London, two cities that dealt with sewage in different ways. By recognizing and understanding how these societies treated their human waste, a fair assessment can be made about whether or not the methods applied could be deemed suitable to meet a high or acceptable standard of health for its citizens. This paper argues that Ancient Rome and Medieval London were more concerned with alleviating the filthy sight and obnoxious odor caused by human waste than with addressing public health issues.