With mesmerizing monuments and secrets of the past buried underground, Rome’s city is one of the fascinating places to exist on the face of the earth. 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. 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 breathtaking ancient structures and charming sceneries. The city has seven hills: the Palatine, the Aventine, the Capitoline, the Quirinal, the Viminal, the Esquiline, and the Caelian. 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 of Italy in modern times.
As elegant as Rome may seem, here are nine facts about Rome which you’d wish you never knew.
1. Mouse brain for toothpaste:
Yes, in ancient Rome, mouse brains were used as toothpaste. The mouse’s 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.
2. Urine tax
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 through the collection of urine from the city.
3. Blood medicines:
In ancient Rome, the blood of gladiators holds hold 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:
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 continued enjoying their feast.
5. 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 would think. They did this to find out if their wives had been consuming alcohol during the day.
Talk about romance!
6. Hair dying:
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 colours that Romans used to dye their hair.
- Brown- You could easily get this colour 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 colour their hair blonde or wear blonde wigs to distinguish them from the common folk. However, this trend died quickly as more and more men and women started colouring their hair blonde.Blonde wigs were also 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 to the hair.
- Red- You could make this colour by mixing animal fat and Beechwood ashes.
Red and blonde were the most popular colours. However, it affected the scalp and led to hair loss. To make up for it, Romans often wore wigs made from the hair of slaves.
7. Left-handed people= unlucky
Left-handed people were considered unlucky in Rome. The Romans started the tradition of wearing wedding rings on the left hand, who 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:
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:
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 favourite destinations of history lovers today. However, experts speculate that 90% of Roman history remains undiscovered. This is because Romans continued to build over the previous remains, pushing older ruins several layers down.
Updated by- Shreyasharma