With mesmerizing monuments and secrets of the past buried underground, here are 9 Shocking facts about Rome.
Rome is one of the most fascinating places to exist on the face of the earth. It is an essential and inseparable part of European history. Rome had made a mark in the world ages ago 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.
Situated in the western region of the Italian peninsula, Rome was found in 753 BC. The city has seven hills: the Palatine, the Aventine, the Capitoline, the Quirinal, the Viminal, the Esquiline, and the Caelian. The city boasts breathtaking ancient structures and charming sceneries. Its residents believed it to be an ‘Eternal City’ as the Romans strongly believed that the Roman Empire would stand firm forever.
However, this strong empire fell in 476 AD, when Odoacer, the Germanic king, defeated Emperor Romulus Augustulus. It is the third most populated city in the European Union and the most populated city in Italy in modern times.
As elegant as Rome may seem, here are nine facts about Rome that you’d wish you never knew.
1. Mouse brain for toothpaste (Facts about Rome):
Yes, in ancient Rome, mouse brains were used as toothpaste. The mouse’s brains were dried, crushed, mixed with bicarbonate soda, and used as toothpaste. The other alternative was using urine as a mouthwash as it was believed to have bleaching properties and result in stain-free teeth.
2. Urine tax (Facts about Rome):
Romans considered urine valuable. In addition, they impose a tax on buying urine for tanning leather and tooth cleaning. ‘Money doesn’t stink’ was a famous saying during those times. Some people’s mode of earning a living was collecting urine from the city.
3. Blood medicines (Facts about Rome):
In ancient Rome, the blood of gladiators holds held medicinal properties. It was popularly used as medicine for epilepsy and to cure infertility. After some time, they abolished the practice of gladiatorial combat. As a result, the blood of anyone decapitated or executed was used for similar purposes.
4. Vomiting during banquets (Facts about Rome):
Roman people found it normal to vomit during banquets which lasted for hours. They would place bowls on the table for this very purpose. However, some people just vomited on the floor and enjoyed their feast.
5. Kissing for alcohol detection (Facts about Rome):
Roman husbands kissed their wives every night; however, the reason behind this is not even half as romantic as what one would think. They did this to determine if their wives had been consuming alcohol during the day.
Talk about romance!
6. Hair dying (Facts about Rome):
Dyed hair was a ubiquitous sight in ancient Rome. Various ingredients were used to dye one’s hair; however, only the wealthy population could afford it. These methods were very time-consuming and could only be afforded by the rich. The following is a list of colors Romans used to dye their hair.
- Brown- You could quickly get this color by crushing the henna plant’s leaves and applying the mixture to one’s hair.
- Blonde hair – You could achieve it by crushing yellow petal flowers or pollen and applying them to one’s hair. According to the law, the prostitutes needed to color their hair or wear blonde wigs to distinguish them from the common folk. However, this trend died quickly as more and more men and women started coloring their hair blonde. Blonde wigs were also made from the hair of enslaved people brought in from other countries like Scandinavia and Germany. Wealthier people sometimes sprinkled natural gold dust on their hair to achieve a golden shade.
- Black- the dye of this color was made by mixing leeches and vinegar/red wine. This mixture was then left to ferment and then applied to the hair.
- Red- You could make this color by mixing animal fat and Beechwood ashes.
Red and blonde were the most popular colors. However, it affected the scalp and led to hair loss. To make up for it, Romans often wore wigs made from the hair of enslaved people.
7. Left-handed people = are unlucky (Facts about Rome):
Left-handed people were considered unlucky in Rome. The Romans started the tradition of wearing wedding rings on the left hand and used their rings to ward off evil. People would throw salt over the left shoulder to appease the devil. Salt was a precious commodity and even used as a mode of payment. The word salary is said to have originated from the word ‘salt.
8. Using urine as bleach (Facts about Rome):
Not only did Romans clean their teeth with urine, but they also used it to wash their clothes because of its bleaching properties. Washer men or dry cleaners would often go around the city, collecting urine from various homes or public bathrooms. The urine collected was then mixed with water and used for washing the clothes.
9. The mascot of Rome (Facts about Rome):
The least weird/shocking fact on the list, and the fact that you’d wish you knew, the mascot of Rome is a she-wolf. Remus’s brother Romulus killed him or one of his supporters over some disagreement. According to Roman mythology, when their king ousted the brothers Romulus and Remus, they nursed a she-wolf. Romulus then went on to become the founder of the city of Rome.
With such a rich history, it is one of the favorite destinations of history lovers today. However, experts speculate that 90% of Roman history remains undiscovered. Romans continued to build over the previous remains, pushing older ruins several layers down.
Updated by- Shreyasharma