Thursday 21 March 2013

Roman toilet paper

Life is all about taking little things for granted. Little things go unnoticed and these are the little things that get lost to history. Here's one, toilet paper...or at least the Roman version. Bleached toilet paper seems to be an international standard today, and despite it's ultimate end, we seem to prefer our toilet paper to be bright and white rather than the dull browns of natural paper. Well, it seems the Romans liked their 'toilet paper' white too. Thanks to Pliny we know that sea sponges - collected in their millions for Roman toilets - were bleached white by being soaked in salt foam and then being laid out at night to dry slowly. As I said, it's the little things - but the sponge industry was worth tens of millions of dollars in today's terms, so maybe it deserves a little bit of modern historical attention. How were those sponges collected? That'll be coming to this blog soon. For more on Roman History, check out 'A Body of Doubt' - live on Amazon now or on YouTube

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