History of Soap #1

Human beings have been concerned about cleanliness, to some degree, for as far back as we can tell. The earliest known proof of the existence of soap came from as early as 2800 BC. A soap-like substance was found inside clay cylinders in ancient Babylon. The cylinders had carved inscriptions on the outside that indicated that ashes were boiled with fats, the same method used today for soap making.

In ancient Egypt, the Ebers Papyrus of 1500 BC detailed the process of combining oils derived from vegetables and animals with alkaline salts to use for washing and for treating skin disease. In ancient Greece, bodies were washed with oil and ashes or oil and dirt, but actual soap was not made.

In Rome, the legend tells that the word soap came from Mount Sapo, a place where the ancient Romans sacrificed animals. Because the animals were sacrificed with fire, melted animal fat (tallow) would run down with the wood ashes into the clay soil of the Tiber River. The women, after discovering how helpful this clay mixture was, began washing their clothes at this site.

In 312 BC, the Romans built their aqueduct baths and bathed in large groups. During the 100s AD, Galen the Greek physician taught that soap was helpful for cleanliness as well as medicinal purposes. Back in Rome in the year 467 AD, when the nation fell, bathing ceased in much of Europe.

Europe fell into an unhygienic period leading to many plagues during the middle ages including Black Death in the 1300s. However, this condition was mainly exclusive to Europe. For example, the Japanese continued bathing daily during this period. Finally, in the 1600s, Europe became interested in bathing again and soap making became big business.
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