The original reason why humans permanently set tled down and cities evolved can be found in the coun try The ability to grow crops and raise livestock made it possible to feed many people in one place Humans be came sedentary Settlements were established expand ed and turned into towns But as populations grew so did problems Johann Peter Frank a physician in the Fran co German border region in 1790 made the famous state ment Most of the ills that plague us stem from humans themselves They include garbage dirt and diseases Some of the early advanced civilizations already had water supply and sewage systems achievements that would subsequently characterize many cities in Greek and Roman antiquity as well The ancient Sumeri ans in today s Iraq are said to have even had toilet rooms with flushing systems However in the Medieval Period much of the knowledge from antiquity was lost again In his article Hygiene und Öff entliche Gesundheit Hy giene and Public Health Martin Exner explains that the average life expectancy at the beginning of the 20th cen tury was about 45 years equating roughly to that of a Roman 2 000 years ago This shows how advanced peo ple in antiquity were in terms of sanitation City life and sanitation a dichotomy with a long history When looking at the conditions in medieval cities low life expectancy comes as no surprise Nobles and servants alike grossly neglect sanitation and person al hygiene Livestock typically dwell in the same four walls as humans Clean water is in scarce supply and due to the misbelief that water might penetrate the skin through the pores and thus cause serious diseases washing is reduced to a minimum The consequences of this lack of hygiene are epidemic diseases such as the plague smallpox or cholera Only in the High Middle Ages do water supply and sewage systems gradually return to the cities In 1596 the Englishman Sir John Harington comes up with the revolutionary design of a flushing toilet with a tank and flush valve the fi rst example of modern sanitary en gineering albeit one that won t be followed by others for a long time The common people continue to live in deplorable conditions much longer In the 18th centu ry Johann Peter Frank writes In a very large number of houses there are no privies at all and certain containers are used for each family so long as this is possible The place where all excretions are collected is either a dung heap enclosed in the narrow yard or perhaps even the public street Only in the 19th century many big cities issue stricter regulations Yet 2 3 billion people are still living without basic sanitary systems today according to the World Health Organization WHO Plastic bags are a popular albeit poor substitute for toilets in the world s slums The bags either end up on the side of the street or on the roofs of houses which ultimately endangers hu man lives 3 5 million people per year die from diarrheal diseases Creating basic sanitary systems is one of the most urgent challenges faced by growing metropolises in poorer regions Education is a child of the city Let s turn to another aspect of urban life educa tion The idea of schools is older than one might think The fi rst known record of a school is found on an Egyp tian epitaph written some 4 000 years ago In ancient cities entire educational systems emerge Teachers pro vide lessons against remuneration on market squares in backyards or in the private mansions of rich citizens and they usually don t treat their pupils with kid gloves In is the cost of Peepoo a toilet bag invented in Sweden which makes the waterless disposable toilet aff ordable even for people who live in slums A mixture of chemicals in the bag kills all germs and transforms human excretions into fertilizer within a few weeks Thanks to its usefulness for farming the fertilizer can even be sold The bag itself is biodegradable and dissolves within a year without leaving any residues 3 cents In 1596 John Harington commissioned by Queen Elizabeth I invented the fi rst flushing toilet His contemporaries however thought the unusual contraption was a joke so his invention sank into oblivion for nearly 200 years in motion 45

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