If you're looking for some interesting reading this summer, we recommend you pick up a copy of Robert Muchembled's Smells: A Cultural History of Odours in Early Modern Times.
You see 2020 might be very bad, but the world is nowhere near as stinky as it was hundreds of years ago. Stench was everywhere, it was just a common part of life and people put up with some pretty profane stinks.
The book looks at life in France during the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries and details all the ways bad smells were integrated into daily life. Did you know communal pee buckets were commonplace and the pee was used by textile and leather workers?
Did you know doctors prescribed things such as eating rat droppings to cure kidney stones? Or how about having an early morning latrine sniff to ward off airborne illnesses. People really did this!
Nobody back then could escape foul stenches, not even the rich. In fact, there were treatises written on hygiene and smells before modern bathing and sewer systems came into place. Pierre-Thomas Hurtault's 1751 classic The Art of Farting gives advice on how to muffle the sounds from one's rear.
It's not something you really think about, but the more you do you realize how bad people and cities must have smelled. We discussed The Book of Smells in today's #StrangeScience segment, and we also learned how many hot dogs a human can scarf down in ten minutes. It's a lot!!