10 Ways Humans Used to Live That Seem Bizarre Today

Ancient Humans

There are so many things that people take for granted every single day. Things that seem like they are just part of life to us now were luxuries to our ancestors, some of them may have even seemed impossible. The ways that people used to live even decades ago seem absolutely unfathomable now; the ways that ancient humans existed seem like they can’t even be real. Did you know that time wasn’t even officially established until 1840? A railway company decided that time should be synchronized so people could catch their trains. Here are ten ways that humans used to live that might blow your mind, and some of them are more modern than you’d think.

Used Physical Maps in the Car

This one isn’t as drastic as several of the others featured on this list but it’s one that seems just as crazy. Many people haven’t even seen a map, but there was a time where people relied heavily on maps to get anywhere at all. When planning a road trip, instead of just checking online or plugging an address into the GPS, people had to purchase maps of where they would be going and either write down the directions by hand or use the map as a reference guide throughout the trip. No thanks.

Used Knives to Maintain Their Nails

Having long fingernails, sometimes up to a foot long, was a status symbol back in the day. It showed other people that you didn’t need to work or carry out your daily activities on your own because you had someone to do it for you. Fingernail clippers weren’t invented until 1875, so before then, people had some weird methods of keeping them short. There have always been people who prefer to bite their nails. But what about the rest of us? Romans used knives to carefully pare down their nails until they were a manageable length. Perhaps the most shocking, in China, they would typically wait for them to just snap off on their own.

Used Mercury as Medication

Mercury is now known to be incredibly toxic to humans. Symptoms brought on by mercury poisoning include nerve loss in the hands and face, memory problems, trouble seeing and walking, and more. There is no true cure for mercury poisoning, either. But, back in the 1500’s, mercury was seen as a cure of its own. Dr. John Hunter claimed to have cured himself of syphilis using mercury. It is now thought that his syphilis was just in a remission period. Different methods included using it as an ointment and taking a vapor bath. These were used as treatments for hundreds of years.

Used Cocaine for… Everything

Some of the greatest minds in medical history, such as Sigmund Freud and William Halsted, swore by their use of cocaine. It was originally included in the soft drink Coca-Cola, which is likely how the drink got its name. It was also touted as a miracle drug because of the euphoric feeling it produces as well as the energy boost, and pain relieving effects. It was used to treat asthma, tuberculosis, depression, indigestion, and more. Regardless of what your ailment was, cocaine was probably the answer. Heroin was also a popular cough syrup.

Used the Internet or the Phone, Not Both

Dial-up internet was once considered to be a cutting-edge technological advancement. Now, we look back and remember the horrid noise it made and not much else. But, dial-up got its name because of the way that users would connect to the internet. The connection was established by using a conventional telephone line to dial a specific number, which would establish a connection to the internet service provider. Because of this, it tied up the phone line so that no one could call the house or use the telephone to dial out while someone was using the internet.

Used Garlic As A Pregnancy Test

Testing for pregnancy in modern times is often as simple as a drive to the nearest drug store, which might be inconvenient but that’s nothing compared to the way that doctors used to think that they could test if someone was pregnant. A clove of garlic was inserted, or sometimes an onion, into the vagina. The results would come the next day when a doctor would see if garlic or onion could be smelled on the woman’s breath. If the doctor could sense the aroma that way, then it was determined to be a positive result. If she happened to have really awful morning breath, it would be a few months before anyone knew the difference.

Used Trepanation as a Treatment Method

If you thought a lobotomy was a drastic procedure, this just might change your mind. If someone was suffering from a range of different diseases, or perhaps just had some evil spirits in their brain, doctors would perform this procedure so they were good as new. Trepanation means drilling holes; essentially, the doctor would bore a hole into the patient’s skull so the evil spirits had a way to get out. Doctors considered this a proven method to cure patients, and archaeological discovery shows that some people even survived this procedure.

Used Flowers Instead of Soap

This sounds kind of wholesome, washing up with flowers because they smelled nice. However, this isn’t what was going on here. Instead of bathing at all, people would carry flowers with them to mask how bad they smelled. Back in medieval times, people would only bathe about once a month. So, to help with the stench that followed, people would carry small bouquets of herbs and flowers to help mask the way that they smelled, and to sniff when they had to pass through crowds.

Used Truly Public Bathrooms

Only wealthy ancient Romans could afford private bathrooms, the rest of the people had to use public bathrooms. That doesn’t sound so bad, people nowadays use public restrooms every day and get by just fine. Except they’re horrible places to be, often dirty, and even though there is a stall closing you in from anyone else who’s in there, they’re embarrassing. Imagine having to use the bathroom without the stall, but instead, in a place like this where you would just sit out in the open with other people. Privacy was very much a luxury in those times, but this is unimaginable.

Used Tapeworms to Lose Weight

There is no way to tell if the advertisement above is fake or something that truly circulated publicly back in the 1950’s, but there are several like it. Tapeworms now are considered horrific. Of course, people do lose weight but there is no guarantee that the tapeworm will stay in the stomach, it can move on to the brain, or other parts of the body. Along with symptoms of pain, weakness, headaches, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, bloating, and vitamin deficiencies, there is the chance that you can die when infected with a tapeworm. But, back in the day, there is significant documentation that they were used to help people slim down.

About The Author
Jenny Taylor