By Greg Jenner

Who invented beds? whilst did we begin cleansing our tooth? How outdated are wine and beer? Which got here first: the bathroom seat or rest room paper? What was once the 1st clock?

Every day, from the instant our alarm clock wakes us within the morning till our head hits our pillow at evening, all of us participate in rituals which are millennia previous. established round one usual day, A Million Years in an afternoon reveals the mind-blowing origins and improvement of the day-by-day practices we take without any consideration. during this gloriously enjoyable romp via human background, Greg Jenner explores the gradual―and frequently unexpected―evolution of our day-by-day routines.

This isn't really a narrative of wars, politics, or nice occasions. in its place, Jenner has scoured Roman garbage containers, Egyptian tombs, and Victorian sewers to carry us the main interesting, remarkable, and infrequently downright foolish ancient nuggets from our past.

Drawn from the world over, spanning one million years of humanity, this publication is a smorgasbord of ancient delights. it's a heritage of all these stuff you continually questioned about―and many you've got by no means thought of. it's the tale of your existence, 1000000 years within the making.

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It seems we’re happy to be vulgar among friends, but as a society our labelling is charmingly euphemistic. A large British house might have several commodes, meaning at least one will probably be kept in its own walk-in cupboard, stationed next to a sink. This little room will often be dubbed the loo, toilet or lavatory. There’s some debate, but it’s plausible that these were all French words originally. ‘Loo’ is the trickiest to pin down; it’s possibly derived from the polite word lieu, meaning the ‘place’ – French eighteenth-century aristocrats called their toilets les lieux à l’anglaise (the places of the English) – but ‘loo’ isn’t really recorded in English usage until the 1920s, so there’s more likelihood of it being an abbreviation of Waterloo Cisterns, a brand frequently stamped on outdoor toilets in the early twentieth century.

Anyway, if I asked you to name a famous ancient sundial, you wouldn’t plump for anything Babylonian; but if you live in Paris, London or New York then you might suggest an Egyptian example that you’ve often walked past; and not one secreted behind glass cases in museums, but proudly erected in the open air. What am I referring to? Well, they’re popularly nicknamed Cleopatra’s Needles, despite having nothing to do with the famous queen. In fact, they’re nearly 3,500 years old, and by the time she was bumping uglies with Julius Caesar these obelisks had already been standing guard in the sun-worshipping city of Heliopolis for 1,400 years.

Our modern obsession with the ceaseless drumbeat of time might have struck them as oddly perverse. Where, then, does our relentless clock-checking come from? Well, you can probably blame God for that, or at least his mortal representatives … THE GODLY HOURS Imagine the scene: it’s dawn and the bell is chiming again. You’ve already been up for a while, so the sound comes as no cruel surprise. In fact, this happens every day, come rain or shine, and will continue to do so until you snuff it. m. Then you’ll start all over again, at dawn, with Lauds.

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