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Project: Visualization

Roman Public Works and Parasites (Adobe Spark)

My research into the Public Works programs found in the Roman Empire led me to a new discussion on these public works. A couple of studies have been released that focus on the widespread problem of parasites in the Roman Empire. The arguments point out that since no treatment for water existed, water-borne parasites were free to spread like wildfire. There are also side points about garum (the fermented fish sauce) being a vector for food-borne parasites as the fish was not cooked. Additionally, the use of night soil and use of lice combs suggests the Roman’s public works were simply disease vectors.

I roundly reject the notion that the spread of parasites was a Roman issue compounded by Empire. Another study found the same intestinal parasites in a pre-Roman settlement in Switzerland of Celtic ethnicity. The parasites were already established prior to Roman excursion past the Po River Valley in the Republican era. Food-borne and soil-borne parasites that infected Romans were not unique to central Italy, let alone the rest of Europe, Africa, and Asia. My visualization reflects this, and I incorporated it into Adobe Spark.

Link: https://spark.adobe.com/page/NUejroD1XT6U0/

SOURCES:

*Sandra L. Pichler, Christine Pümpin, David Brönnimann, Philippe Rentzel. Life in the Proto-Urban Style: The Identification of Parasite Eggs in Micromorphological Thin Sections from the Basel-Gasfabrik Late Iron Age Settlement, Switzerland. Journal of Archaeological Science, 2014

*Mitchell, Piers D. “Human Parasites in the Roman World: Health Consequences of Conquering an Empire.” Parasitology 144, no. 1, Cambridge University Press 2017

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