The Romans brought their famous baths and toilets to three continents, so how come they left places more unhygienic than they found them?

IF THERE S one thing most people know about the ancient Romans, it s that they spent a lot of time in the bath.

From plain and practical to polished-marble luxury, baths provided both colonists and colonised the means of a daily soak.

Less well known is the Roman passion for another hygienic innovation: the public convenience.

What did all that washing and flushing do for the health of less fastidious folk who came under Roman rule?

Given what we know now about the benefits of sanitation, you might safely assume this would lead to an improvement in people s health, says Piers Mitchell, a doctor and palaeopathologist at the University of Cambridge.

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