I don't know how many nappies I put on during the 8 years of crying
children, but I never stopped wondering what we would do without them.
OK, it is clever marketing (much as the hunter-gatherers who were sold
farming and were unable to go back to hunting as a life-style), but I
really would like to know what people did with babies before nappies.
Even if you use towel nappies, you end up with up to a dozen a day
(which is itself expensive), then you have to wash them (which is not
easy without running water) .... then you have to dry them, and with the
rain we've had this August you could end up having to dry them all inside.
The same goes with menstruating towels.
Now, I live in a tent for a couple of weeks each summer and if it rains
its is ni on impossible to get anything dry until the sun comes out. In
the winter it would be a nightmare ... a small enclosed space not being
able to move anywhere without getting a old-ragged-half-dirty nappy in
I bet the women in those 1970s iron-age reconstructions used sanitary
towels out of the packet!
If you add it all together, the washing of towels for menstruation,
towels for nappies, and then compare that with the probable lack of
washing of "normal" clothes, it seems to be that washing nappies might
have been the biggest single activity in any iron-age village - which
sharply contradicts the total lack of any archaeology of nappies!
Catherine Stallybrass wrote:
> In a message dated 12/09/2008 10:32:08 GMT Standard Time, [log in to unmask]
>> Then again, I can't understand how it was possible to have children
>> before the nappy was invented, nor for that matter the sanitary
>> towel, but people must have coped somehow.
> This message is obviously going to open up a whole new thread. There
> must be PhD dissertations out there.
> While listening to various people in York explaining to school kids that the
> Vikings used moss for lavatory paper together with pieces of rag - because
> these were found in the cesspits, I did always wonder whether this
> interpretation of the rag was purely the product of male archaeologists! Any
> imaginative woman can visualise the teenage girl who simply couldn't face washing out
> the bloody rags AGAIN! "Oh dear, I seem to have dropped them in the cesspit!
> I seem to remember that the Folk Museum in Stockholm did a research project
> and subsequent exhibition on menstruation before the disposable ST!