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Taking the Piss: Urine in Early Modern Europe

By Ruben Verwaal

Abstract

As long as there have been humans, urine has been regularly discharged. You may not consider your urine very interesting. In fact, you may be very eager to leave your messy and leaky excretion behind in the bathroom. But have we always looked at this fluid with a feeling of disgust? What did people in early modern times think of urine? Unfortunately, no flask with early modern urine is still extant today. Luckily a flood of textual and visual sources still remind us of the flows of urine in the past, especially in the history of medicine. Patients discharged all kinds of urine. Physicians thought they could read the state of the body from it. Apothecaries even used it as a medicinal ingredient. This piece narrates how people in early modern Europe researched and conceptualised this human water, how they handled it, and transformed it to fit their uses

Topics: urine, To be checked by Faculty
Year: 2017
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Provided by: NARCIS
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