Archaeologists make a special discovery: the British probably owe bedbugs to the Romans | Abroad

Archaeologists make a special discovery: the British probably owe bedbugs to the Romans | Abroad
Archaeologists make a special discovery: the British probably owe bedbugs to the Romans | Abroad

The fact that the British suffer from bedbugs is most likely ‘thanks’ to the Romans. Archaeological research shows that the Romans brought the bloodthirsty insects from mainland Europe to their new settlements in the United Kingdom almost two thousand years ago.

Archaeologists have made a remarkable discovery in the grounds of a Roman fort (Vindolanda) in the north of England. They found the chests of two bed bugs. It is seen as new evidence that these insects already lived among the Romans a few thousand years ago.

Andrew Birley, head of the Vindolanda archaeological team, said in the British newspaper The Guardian:,,It is incredibly rare to find them. The ground layers we are studying date from around the year 100. In that ground layer, 24-year-old student Katie Wyse Jackson found the ancient chests.

It is almost certain that the remains come from the common bed bug, known by its Latin name Cimex lectualarius. With mouthparts that resemble sharp needles, they pierce people’s skin to suck their blood. Blood they need to survive.

Medicinal value of bed bugs

“Finding things like this helps humanize the people of the past,” says Wyse Jackson The Guardian. She noted that Pliny, the Roman philosopher, wrote about the medicinal value of bed bugs in treating certain ailments, including ear infections. “People had all kinds of ideas at the time about what insects could do.”

According to archaeologists, bed bugs have previously been found at a Roman settlement in England, but the insects found on the Vindolanda site are much older. The archaeologists suspect that the Romans brought bedbugs to the United Kingdom in their straw mattresses. “The Romans brought large quantities of clothing, straw and grain with them when they set up camps here. It was the perfect opportunity for these creatures to hitch a ride.”

Bed bugs are about 8.5 millimeters in size. © Getty Images

Panic in London and Paris

Today, pests mainly cause itching and sometimes panic reactions. Last October, public transport in the French capital Paris was plagued by a bedbug plague and London also held its breath. Mayor Sadiq Khan took measures to keep public transport in the metropolis extra clean, fearing that the parasitic insects would spread in (metro) trains and buses. Eurostar, the high-speed train service that connects Paris with London, also announced that its trains were being cleaned more often.

Bed bugs bite humans and warm-blooded animals and therefore feed on blood. They only need three to ten minutes to consume up to six times their weight. This leads to itchy bites. They are reddish brown in color and do not grow larger than 8.5 millimeters. They are often found in beds, luggage and clothing.

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The article is in Dutch

Tags: Archaeologists special discovery British owe bedbugs Romans


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