A Million Years in a Day: A Curious History of Everyday Life by Greg Jenner

By Greg Jenner

Who invented beds? whilst did we commence cleansing our tooth? How previous are wine and beer? Which got here first: the bathroom seat or bathroom 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us within the morning till our head hits our pillow at evening, all of us participate in rituals which are millennia outdated. established round one traditional day, A Million Years in an afternoon reveals the extraordinary origins and improvement of the day-by-day practices we take with no consideration. during this gloriously interesting romp via human heritage, 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 deliver us the main exciting, superb, and infrequently downright foolish ancient nuggets from our past.

Drawn from internationally, spanning one million years of humanity, this publication is a smorgasbord of ancient delights. it's a historical past of all these belongings you constantly questioned about―and many you will have by no means thought of. it's the tale of your existence, 1000000 years within the making.

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Extra resources for A Million Years in a Day: A Curious History of Everyday Life from the Stone Age to the Phone Age

Sample text

We may even feel as if our days are a constant race against the clock, and I use that phrase deliberately. It’s no coincidence that the thirteenth century, which birthed the mercantilism that supercharged many Europeans cities into economic powerhouses, also witnessed the debut of the mechanical clock. These massive devices were perched high in civic belltowers, so that instead of silent sundials – seemingly ignored by most Romans – they acted as a constant noisy reminder of the here and now; of the slippery, fleeting resource of useful business hours during which you could be out on the streets raking in the cash, like a medieval Donald Trump but with less ridiculous hair.

Who could disagree with such glorious logic! Alas, Willett hadn’t factored in just how strong the opposition would be. After three decades of temporal standardisation across the country, there weren’t many wistful nostalgics pining for the days when messing about with a clock was necessary, least of all eight times per year. Having begun the process as an upstanding gent, Willett ended the battle as a comedy punchline, widely derided as an impractical loony. With his credibility in ruins, Willett’s parliamentary application was rejected six years on the trot.

So much for romance … But if we’d chosen a less light-polluted promontory, and a country with better weather, we might have glimpsed something known to astronomers as heliacal rising. Just before the dawn, certain stars called Decans briefly peek over the eastern horizon. These groups of 36 constellations drift westerly each day by a single degree, appearing each morning slightly further across, until they pass out of view for a whole year. A new star peeps, like a curious meerkat, over the eastern horizon every ten days (hence the name, Dekanoi means ‘tenths’ in Greek), and this possibly influenced the Egyptians to choose a ten-day week.

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