P is for Pompeii

Mount Vesuvius right before 1906 eruption                           Image via Wikipedia     Pompeii existed over two thousand years ago as a prosperous town. People loved and fought, bought and bartered, reared their families and planned for the future. Until Mount Vesuvius had other things to say. Within twenty-four hours the angry volcano annihilated their world.
     Ash preserved the torment of the humans who had lived there. The ash shells were filled with plaster, and the exhibit made me cry as though this disaster just happened.
     The image to the left haunts me the most. The man looks as though he’s crying and well he could be. In reality he’s covering his face trying to protect it from the choking ash and noxious fumes.
     A world of sermons and lessons and contemplations exist in the exhibit I saw. However, one stands out the most:
     To get their clothes clean, these people used pee! Having no clorox or bubbling suds or whatever, they resorted to ammonia. Ammonia is a primary component of urine. Not only did people pee on their clothes, they collected it from total strangers.
     Large urns (old-fashioned urinals) lined the street. When the urge hit, the populace used it. These urns were brought to the laundromat and launderers stomped on the laundry in their bare feet!
     In case I haven’t mentioned it: YUCK.
     Since then I’ve learned, from my pastor no less, that this is an age-old remedy for many things.

  1. Rome believed urine to be theraputic. Thus these troughs could be accessed by anyone to imbibe. Giant urine fountains for their health!
  2. Gypsies used cow urine to cure Bright’s disease. Maybe that’s why the Romanians aren’t found of this ethnic group.
  3. Yogis and Lamas from Tibet extended their lives by drinking their own pee.
  4. A book titled One Thousand Notable Things describes the use of urine to cure scurvy, relieve skin itching, cleanse wounds, and many other treatments. 
  5. An 18th century French dentist praised urine as a valuable mouthwash.
  6. In England during the 1860-70s, the drinking of one’s own urine was a common cure for jaundice.
  7. In more modern times, the Alaskan Eskimos have used urine as an antiseptic to treat wounds

     Say what you will about the lessons from Pompeii. This is one I don’t want learned in the modern world.   

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  1. Lisa, yes, the figures are heart wrenching. I was interested until I reached that portion of the exhibit–then I wanted to cry. Everything took on new meaning.

    Nancy, I'll look up the book. Thanks.

  2. Lisa Grace says:

    The figures are a heart wrenching reminder of the suffering.

    Change of subject, in colonial times, they used pee to help set the dye to color cloth.

  3. Linda says:

    Informative…love your satire.

  4. Carol, you may want to check out POMPEII: CITY ON FIRE by T.L. Higley. I've read it and also seen the dramatized documentary Pompeii: The Last Day (2003) which is very good, but yes, those plaster casts are heart wrenching. Especially the children.

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