Romans who lived in Pompeii in 79 AD had more artificial light and were therefore probably happier than the inhabitants of London in the early 19th century, according to a study.
Artificial candle light values were calculated by scientists for an average person both in London in 1820 and before Vesuvius Pompeii.
Researchers say that access to more artificial light at night would have provided additional income, improved education, and improved mental health and wellbeing.
The analysis showed that the Romans had access to around 17 percent more artificial light than the Georgians.
This would most likely have resulted in Pompeii residents being happier 1,750 years later than their UK counterparts, experts say.
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Scientists believe that the average Roman living in Pompeii would have had more artificial light than a Londoner at the beginning of the 19th century, which would probably have led to more luck
According to researchers who re-enacted how much artificial light a person would have had access to both in 1820 in London and before Vesuvius Pompeii, the Romans had around 17 percent more light than the Georgians
Dr. Kai Whiting, lead author of the study and postdoctoral researcher at UCLouvain in Belgium, told MailOnline: “With our model, we estimated that the average ancient Roman experienced about 41,000 lumen hours / head / year.
“That is around 6,000 lumen hours per head and year, or 17 percent more light than their Georgian counterpart.
"In fact, London did not catch up with ancient Rome until around 1850 (the industrial revolution)."
"Without a doubt, some slaves in Pompeii and Herculaneum would have had more access to lighting than poor Georgian families – which we may not be thinking about," added Dr. Whiting added.
In both companies, several factors affected the light level. The Georgians had superior fuels to the Romans due to the advent of wax candles and coal gas, but were often only available to companies and the rich.
Georgians were also exposed to two bizarre taxes that punished the poor and accused people of having windows in their homes and also using candles.
Back then, those who could not afford to have a window were extremely dependent on artificial light from candles, but often could not afford it.
Georgian light sources in the house were sebum, wax and spermaceti candles.
The Romans had worse tools than the Georgians and the light came from olive oil and candles made from animal fat.
Despite fewer light sources, there were no restrictions on the number of candles.
The Romans living in Herculaneum and Pompeii were aware of the benefits of light availability because it was forbidden to erect a fence that blocked a person's sunlight.
While wealthy Georgians who lived in London in the 1820s had many windows and candles to illuminate their homes, the poor were beaten with taxes on windows and candles. The poorest members of society, servants, etc. often had very little non-natural light in their homes
Dr. Kai Whiting told MailOnline that the average ancient Roman experienced about 6,000 lumen hours / head / year, or 17 percent more light than his Georgian counterpart. "In fact, London did not catch up with ancient Rome until around 1850 (the industrial revolution)," he said
Dr. Whiting said, “The Georgians had both a candle tax and a window tax, which meant that many people at home didn't have much (if any) natural or artificial light.
The candle tax was later lifted because British MPs were concerned about the health effects of constant darkness for poor people, especially children.
Winter and darkness can cause seasonal mood disorders (SAD).
Seasonal mood disorder (SAD) is a type of depression caused by the seasons.
The symptoms of the disease are similar to other forms of depression, but are more significant in winter.
According to the NHS, symptoms of SAD include:
- a continuing bad mood
- Loss of joy or interest in normal everyday activities
- Feelings of despair, guilt and worthlessness
- I feel lazy (without energy) and sleepy during the day
- sleep longer than normal and I find it difficult to get up in the morning
- Desire for carbohydrates and weight gain
The cause of SAD is a mystery, with little scientific explanation as to why low light conditions can lead to depression.
However, the leading theories include disturbances in the daily rhythm and problems with the production of melatonin and serotonin.
Melatonin is a hormone that causes drowsiness, but levels can be affected by SAD.
Serotonin is a hormone that affects mood, appetite, and sleep.
“Additional light would have enabled poor people to stay at home, continue their education, enjoy free time or work. It would have given them freedom. & # 39;
Since it was not possible to have candles at home in the evenings, many people went back to public places like pubs to get light.
"There's not much a person can do when they're sitting in the dark at home, especially when they have their window bricked up, which would have made it very dark indeed," says Dr. Whiting.
It has been known that constant darkness negatively affects mental and physical health.
“More light would have meant that people could stay at home and work there instead of working in public places, which could have been more dangerous at night.
“Being able to stay instead of being forced to go out would make people happier.
“There is a lot to say when it comes to making more fundamental decisions.
"Just think of COVID and how many people were feeling cabin fever!"
An important finding of the study was that the Georgians had more artificial light at work, but significantly less at home at night.
Data for the study on the lighting conditions of Georgians was collected from supply contracts, court proceedings, technical manuals, sales catalogs and construction plans.
Roman exposure to light was measured using archaeological evidence available at the Pompeii and Herculaneum sites.
"The Vesuvius eruption meant that people left behind many of their belongings (including clay and bronze lamps)," explains Dr. Whiting.
& # 39; These things stayed there until the archaeological excavations. We therefore know how many lamps were left in households, temples, restaurants and shops. & # 39;
The advantage of having access to light in the house at night would have been significant, the researchers said.
"If people could work in the safety of their home at night, they would have an additional income," said Dr. Whiting.
The research was published in the journal Ecological Economics.
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