What is connection between a roman emperor, a book by Sally Magnusson, world food price crisis of 2008, the mining industry of Morocco and dutch street urinals?

Stay with me for the next 1600 words or so and I will tell you in several installments.

If you are mystified, let me explain. I am quite fond of the BBC documentary series "Connections". This is the reason for the somewhat mysterious introduction - I tried to mimic Burke’s "Connections". If you never saw the show, here is the idea: sometimes bizarre connections between events or people lead to unforeseen chain of consequences.

So, let’s take each of my bizarre connections in turn and see if I can make you interested.

Vespasians

Bust of Emperor Vespasian

The starting point of this series of connections can be traced to one of the roman emperors, namely Vespasian. When Vespasian came to power after a short but brutal civil war Rome was bankrupt and the city itself partially destroyed. It speaks a lot about his administrative abilities that in less than a decade Rome recovered its looks and, more importantly, recovered financially.

A parisian urinal  known as 'vespasienne'

Vespasian is known to have struggled to improve public sanitation even before his time as an emperor; his hands-on experience with public building and street maintenance in Rome made him an utter pragmatic and possibly gave him later the idea to tax urine collection. Because urine collection was so lucrative and indispensable as a cleaning agent the tax return was very significant. It may well be that recycling human waste helped restore the Roman Empire to economic well being. Somehow, Vespasian’s name came to be so strongly associated with public sanitation, that even today it lives on in the french word “vespasiennes” - referring to french public urinals.

We can readily understand the need for public sanitation. But why was urine so important commercially?

Urine - a most versatile commodity

Cover of the book 'Life of Pee' by Sally Magnusson

Urine was a very important commodity for most of human history. Used as a detergent; used in food industries as diverse as baking or ale production; used in animal skin processing; dye fixing or gunpowder production; early paper mills or as a fertilizer; in medicine or in art; in textile industry or in making beautiful stained glass - the list can go on and on.

It is only rather recently that we started flushing it out or sight and out of mind. Not so long ago, however, urine was central to many commercial activities and was a money maker, as Vespasian was keen to note. To remind the modern creatures walking on the same old planet what urine meant during most of our history, Sally Magnusson wrote a book called "Life of the Pee - the story of how urine got everywhere" - immensely entertaining and humorous but no less true for all of that.

The book was published in 2010, two years after a food price explosion that shook the world and gave us a glimpse of what food shortage at affordable prices can lead to. Which brings us to 2008 and the link between food and rock phosphate price.

I would like to hear what YOU think. Please share your opinion (even more so if you do not agree)!

Share this Post:

0 Comments

Add a comment

Posting comment as guest.
If you already have an account, please LOGIN.
If not, you may consider creating on. It’s FREE!

Popular new stories

Categories

Tags

2008 world food price crisis aerosol effect airborne germs air-dryer mat ancient rome antibacterial products antimicrobial antimicrobial bathroom mat antimicrobial bathroom mats antimicrobial mat antimicrobial mats antimicrobial products antimicrobial restroom mats attract customers back to school bad impression bad restroom experience bath mats bathroom bathroom cleaning products bathroom cleaning tips bathroom cleaning tricks bathroom dangers bathroom habits bathroom hygiene bathroom maintenance bathroom mats bathroom problems bathroom solutions bathroom stink best cleaning products business investments business restroom child safety clean clean bathroom clean bathroom tips clean bathrooms clean dining room clean environment clean facilities clean habits clean hands clean home clean house clean office clean offices clean places clean public restrooms clean restaurants clean restroom clean restrooms clean school clean towels clean work environment clean work place clean workplace clean workplaces cleaner crew costs cleaning methods cleaning products cleaning routine cleaning service cleaning services cleaning tips cleaning tips to save time cleaning tricks cleanliness tips community events contract cleaning providers daily habits dangers in the bathroom deodorizing screens dirty bathroom dirty bathrooms dirty habits dirty kitchen spots dirty places dirty restroom dirty restrooms disgusting restrooms disinfect the bathroom effective cleaning emperor vespasian etiquette facts about toilets fertilizer filthy odors fresh bathroom fresh bathrooms fresh restroom fresh restrooms fresh towels funny things about toilets good business good quality restroom products great jobs gross public restrooms happy customers health healthy environment healthy environment healthy environments healthy kids healthy lifestyle healthy work environment high-end restroom conditions home cleanliness home maintenance horrible restroom odors how to clean human behavior iaapa improve restroom appearance improve your restroom feel indoor humidity infographic injuries in the bathrooms innovative restroom products issa issa/interclean janitorial contracts janitorial services janitorial tips janitorial work kennel home mat kids helping out manufacture in america mats that save time mold problems morocco phosphate reserves october shows office cleaning office rules peebetter initiative pet care pet house training phosphate price explosion plumbing problems plumbing system plumbing tips potty training potty training tips professional cleaning professional restroom cleaning proper restaurant cleaning proudly made in usa public restroom public restroom problems public restroom rules public restrooms public sanitation public toilets quality services reasons restaurant bathrooms restroom behavior restroom care restroom care products restroom cleaning tips restroom cleaning tools restroom cleanliness restroom cleanliness tips restroom habits restroom maintenance restroom mats restroom policy restroom products restroom rules restroom safety restroom solutions restroom tools restroom tricks revolutionary products revolutionary restroom products revolutionary restroom tools safe environment safe online shopping safety tips sample mats sanitary restrooms sanitation revolution sanitizing options save money save time school shop online sink mat sink puddle skilled people smart choices splash hog spring cleaning successful businesses successful restaurants tidy home tips for online shopping tips for your health toilet etiquette toilet mats toilet partitions trade show trade shows traveling tips trendy restrooms urinal mat urinal mats urinal screens urinalmat urine problems urine smell urine stains in restrooms value of clean washroom accessories water consumption wet bathroom floors why buy urinal mats wizkid wizkid antimicrobial mat wizkid mat wizkid mats wizkid products wizkid products online wizkid splash hog wizkid urinal mats workplace accidents