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Can You Guess The Use Of This Stick?

A sponge stick was a hygienic tool used by the ancient Romans. To clean it, the sponge was washed in a bucket with water and salt or vinegar. Nevertheless, it became the breeding ground for bacteria and was responsible for the spread of disease.

Although not its primary purpose, during Miriam’s time a Germanic gladiator, probably a prisoner of war, used it to commit suicide. He hid himself in the amphitheater and pushed the wooden stick into his gullet to choke to death.

Need a clue on its more traditional use? Then listen to Miriam in “The Brother”, a short story in my new collection The Deadliest Deceptions. She tells us how she tried to track down information about a stolen manuscript:

I heard nothing, not a word despite slogging every day through the tide of vehicles, dodging bullying oxcarts and getting trapped behind clots of hawkers and gawkers. Nothing, not a word despite my daily rounds to every barber shop, tavern, brothel, soup kitchen, latrine, moneychanger’s stall, and port official.

A sponge stick was used in one of those places. Still not sure? Its use was replaced when toilet paper was invented! So, now you know. Sponge sticks were shared in a public latrine. Another source of infection in the latrines came from the rats and other small vermin that bit your bottom.

But don’t let that scare you away from visiting Roman Alexandria. You will be safe if you go with Miriam. Moreover, the trip will be inexpensive. To make arrangements, just click here.


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