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Judi's avatar

Did ancient people have less BO?

Asked by Judi (37697 points ) December 25th, 2012

I have noticed that when I eat processed foods (and to much of them) my body odor stinks worse. In ancient times they had less processed foods (I think) and food was more scarce.
I’m sure they stunk plenty since they didn’t shower and do laundry as often, but do you think they produced LESS BO per day?
Just a silly curious question. I really want to know but I am OK with silly answers as well.
Feeling stinky from all the Christmas indulgence.

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16 Answers

zenvelo's avatar

They smelled differently , but not better or worse. Remember people had lousy health before 1900, and back in ancient times they had all kinds of illnesses that smelled horribly.

Self_Consuming_Cannibal's avatar

I’d say they probably did have less BO for that exact reason. On a side note since they didn’t have dentists and toothbrushes, I would assume they kept their teeth by not having such sugary foods and drinks like Twinkies and Mountain Dew and I would assume a lot of time they really had to really oraly work for their food that sounds so bad. I just meant if they ate meat, say for example a cow, they probably wasn’t able to make their “steak” very tender like we can today.

Then again twinkies never expire so maybe they have been around since the beggining of time. Maybe the Mayans or ancient egyptians created them. Or maybe it was even God.

Shippy's avatar

I believe there would have been a consensual stink about the place, meaning no smell at all. Since they were all used to it. But not being much of an Historian I am not sure. Didn’t the Romans after all invent bath houses or am I way off here? Not sure what they did at those bath houses, considering what they do at them today, now I am totally of the topic. I think.

JenniferP's avatar

Probably one reason for having less bo is that they didn’t bathe as often. Because we bathe and shower so much, we smell bad when we miss it for a day.

zensky's avatar

Brontosaurus breath.

bossob's avatar

I dunno about ancient people, but I’ve wondered the same thing about settlers in the 1800’s who apparently didn’t bathe often. How could couples get close enough, long enough, to make so many babies?!

PeppermintBiscuit's avatar

I think it depends on the culture. Some put more stock in bathing; others thought bathing wasn’t necessary, but that changing your clothes was. So some ancient peoples may have had less BO, and some probably had more.
I think there used to be a different viewpoint on BO, though. It wasn’t so taboo as it is now. I remember learning in school about how, in Britain I think, if a man had to leave his wife for a length of time, he would first sleep with something tucked into his armpit, and then leave it with her so she could sniff it while he was gone.

CWOTUS's avatar

I think that any cultures and people who didn’t have decent hygiene (by which I mean primarily Europeans, whose hygiene has historically – until fairly recently, anyway – been among the worst in the world) must have had tremendously awful body odor. But in the context of open sewers, abscessed teeth and the odors they can produce, and having livestock live in the house, who would notice another’s odor? (And since they lived with their own stink day after day, and believed that swimming was witchery and for that reason avoided immersion in lakes, ponds and rivers, they were unconscious of their own odor.)

Paradox25's avatar

Maybe they went overkill with the cologne/perfume to mask the odor.Joking Actually though I knew people that smelled real bad, and they would throw on cologne or perfume, and they smelled something like fish and roses combined. Relating to your question I’m guessing that they were so used to the stench that they likely didn’t even notice it.

majorrich's avatar

Thats why ladies and gentlemen of the time carried sachets to cover the stink.

Unbroken's avatar

Oh remember the desciptions of the tubs how every member of the family used the same one and the youngest got the dirtiest water and they only bathed once a week?

I think they took a bit of a spit bath with basin of water and soap in the morning though.

I do think our food is loaded with unhealthy stuff that makes us stink. And the soaps strip our oils making us dirtier faster and deodorant prevents sweat from drying and dissapating.

But we don’t or most of don’t muck out the barn or milk cows and have a garden and wash laundry over a fire and or such.

I think they did have some sort of oral care. But certain foods are really good at cleaning your teeth. Be interesting to see when that became a hygiene thing.

ucme's avatar

Jesus stank the bloody place out, his friends crucified him over this, which made him cross…I blame those fucking sandals.

Unbroken's avatar

@ucme sandals are great breathability yet rudimentary protection.

Coloma's avatar

I dunno…..what would be more palatable, a stronger BO from processed foods but good, daily personal hygeine, or, extra body hair, wallowing in filthy, infested animal skins, rarely bathing, no soap, no shower gel, no deodorant, no toothpaste and dental floss, and joy of joys, for women and infants…. wearing mammoth skin diapers and kotex,stuffed with dried grasses
Oooh baby….lets kiss! . haha

Pachy's avatar

Yes, but I’m sure they didn’t no the difference. And if somebody had come along who smelled good, he or she would probably have been ostracized.

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