With mesmerizing monuments and secrets of the past buried underground, the city of Rome is one of the most fascinating places to exist on the face of the earth. With great conquerors like Julius Caesar and its pioneering developments in engineering, like the aqueducts used to supply water to the city from water reservoirs, Rome had made a mark in the world ages ago. It is an important and inseparable part of European history.
Situated in the western region of the Italian peninsula, Rome was found in 753 BC. The city boasts of breathtaking ancient structures and bewitching sceneries. The city has 7 hills, called; the Palatine, the Aventine, the Capitoline, the Quirinal, the Viminal, the Esquiline, and the Caelian, all of which had their own settlements. It was believed to be an ‘Eternal City’ by its residents as the Romans strongly believed that the Roman Empire would stand strong forever.
However, this strong empire fell in 476 AD, when the Emperor Romulus Augustulus was defeated by Odoacer, the Germanic king. In modern times, it is the third most populated city in the European Union and the most populated city of Italy.
As elegant as Rome may seem, here are 9 TMI facts which you’d wish you never knew.
- Mouse brain for toothpaste:
Yes, in ancient Rome, mouse brains were used as toothpaste. The mouse brains were dried, crushed, mixed with some bicarbonate soda and used as toothpaste. The other alternative was using urine as a mouthwash as it was believed to have bleaching properties and resulted in stain-free teeth.
- Urine tax
Romans considered urine as a valuable thing and taxes were imposed on buying urine which was used for tanning leather and tooth cleaning. ‘Money doesn’t stink’ was a popular saying during those times. Some people’s mode of earning a living was collection of urine from the city.
- Blood medicines:
In ancient Rome, the blood of gladiators was believed to hold medicinal properties. It was popularly used as medicine for epilepsy and to cure infertility. After the practice of gladiatorial combat was abolished, the blood of anyone who was decapitated or executed was used for the purpose.
- Vomiting during banquets:
It was considered normal for people to vomit during banquets which lasted for hours. There were bowls placed on the table for this very purpose. However, some people just vomited on the floor and continued enjoying their feast.
- Kissing for alcohol detection:
Roman husbands kissed their wives every night; however, the reason behind this is not even half as romantic as what one could think. They did this to find out if their wives had been consuming alcohol during the day. Talk about romance…….
- Hair dying:
Dyed hair was a very common sight in ancient Rome. Various ingredients were used to dye one’s hair; however, this could only be afforded by the wealthy population. These methods, however, were very time consuming and could only be afforded by the rich. The following is a list of colours which were used by Romans to dye their hair.
- Brown- this colour was achieved by crushing the leaves of the henna plant and applying the mixture on one’s hair.
- Blond- this colour was achieved by crushing yellow petal flowers or pollen and applying them on one’s hair. Prostitutes in Rome were required by law to colour their hair blonde or wear blonde wigs, so as to distinguish them from the common folk. However, this trend declined quickly as more and more men and women started colouring their hair blonde. Blonde wigs were also available which were made from the hair of slaves brought in from other countries like Scandinavia and Germany. Wealthier people sometimes sprinkled real gold dust on their hair to achieve a golden shade.
- Black- the dye of this colour was made by mixing leeches and vinegar/red wine. This mixture was then left to ferment and then applied on the hair.
- Red- this could be done by mixing animal fat and Beechwood ashes.
Red and blond were the most popular colours. However, it affected the scalp and lead to hair loss. To make up for it, Romans often wore wigs made from the hair of slaves.
- Left-hander people= unlucky
Left-hander people were considered to be unlucky in Rome. The tradition of wearing wedding rings on the left hand was started by the Romans who used their rings to ward off the evil. To appease the devil, which was supposed to lurk on one’s left shoulder, salt was thrown over the left shoulder if someone happened to spill some salt. Salt was a very valuable commodity and even used as a mode of payment. The word salary is said to have originated from the word ‘salt’.
- Using urine as bleach:
Not only did Romans clean their teeth with urine, but they also used it to clean their clothes because of its bleaching properties. Washer men or dry cleaners would often go around the city, collecting urine from various homes or collect it from public bathrooms. The urine collected was then mixed with water and used for washing the clothes.
- The mascot of Rome:
The least weird/shocking fact on the list, and a fact that you’d actually wish you knew; the mascot of Rome is a she-wolf. According to Roman mythology, when the brothers Romulus and Remus were ousted by their king who viewed them as a threat to his position, it was a she-wolf who nursed them. Remus is said to have been killed by his brother Romulus or one of his supporters over some disagreement. Romulus then went on to become the founder of the city of Rome.
With such a rich history, it is one of the favourite destinations of history lovers. However, experts speculate that 90% of Roman history still remains undiscovered. This is because Romans continued to build over the previous remains, thus pushing older ruins several layers down.