Why The Past Smelled Absolutely Horrible

By | March 16, 2020

It's time to face facts: People are disgusting. It's not that you're a lazy or unhygienic person, it's just that the human body is a cesspool and there's nothing to be done about it. As gross as our bodies are now, they were even worse throughout history, which means the past stank to high heavens. If you went back in time, you wouldn't bro down with George Washington or party with Marie Antoinette at Versailles. You'd be gagging from the smell (and probably killing everyone with all of your modern bacteria). Take, for instance ...

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The Sponge On A Stick

If you had to pick the smelliest place in time, it's got to be ancient Rome. That place was absolutely filthy, and matters weren't helped by the xylospongium, a sponge on a stick that was used for cleaning one's unmentionable areas until toilet paper was invented. As if that wasn't disturbing enough, everyone in town shared the same stick, and it wasn’t cleaned so much as it was left to rest in a bowl of (quickly filthy) water. If you're looking for an easy way to spread disease, this is it.

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People Didn't Bathe In The 16th Century

Prior to the Black Death, a plague that did away with 60% of Europe's population in the 14th century, many people visited public baths or a bath house to wash up. However, once friends and loved ones started breaking out in syphilis and tuberculosis and whatnot, the people of the Middle Ages stopped sharing water with one another. Since a medieval person would have regarded a private plumbing system as a form of witchcraft, that effectively meant the end of bathing. Some monks only bathed four times a year. There were also dead bodies just everywhere. This era is definitely a contender for the smelliest in history.