I really enjoy history so the places I would prefer to visit would have some type of historical context. It could be a rather minute piece of history that would beckon a visit from me, or it could be somewhere that is full of historical happenings.
Of course, I recognize that my choice to visit historical sites around the world would be a wonderful experience and if I ever had the opportunity to visit these sites, I would be remiss if I didn’t study the history and culture of the area before and during the trip. Ideally it would be great to learn about the past culture and traditions that made these places so fascinating to me and then to watch and observe what it is like today.
As a public health professional, I am fascinated by people and the customs of the past as they relate to their health and the community’s health. I particularly enjoy learning about the healing arts that were used before modern medicine.
For example, most people are aware that George Washington had false teeth, but contrary to a popular myth, his teeth were made from ivory, not wood, and were difficult to use when eating or speaking. They stained easily and required much maintenance. His dentures, of which he had many, caused pain, bulging lips, facial disfigurement, and significant embarrassment.
As seen in the picture of his inaugural dentures, there is a hole for the lower left molar. That was the only tooth he had left at the time of his presidential inauguration, and it acted as an anchor to keep his dentures from slipping. Sometime during his Presidency this lone tooth was pulled, leaving him in a more difficult situation, toothless and with new dentures that fit worse than ever.
I would like a return visit to his home and plantation to look at other unusual things I missed during my first visit. I am curious about the slaves that he owned and their living conditions and how they were treated. I know that I can get much of this information from history books and documents, which is a good thing but to supplement this information with a first-hand look solidifies my curiosity.
I would enjoy viewing life during the Middle Ages and get a better understanding of how they coped with the health challenges they faced. Obviously, I can’t do this so I would accomplish this by preparing for a trip to Europe by reading some books describing their living conditions as well as their health practices.
Several years ago, I read a history book that described a custom of women walking on the inside of the man as they walked down the street during the Middle Ages. Back then people didn’t have indoor plumbing, so when their chamber pots were full, they opened the window and emptied them onto the street below. Women of the time walked on the inside of the man so if they passed under the window when someone emptied their chamber pot it would be dumped all over them and not the men. While this is an interesting and disgusting image that really is mentioned in some history books it probably is really a lot of nonsense1. It never happened (which is a good thing, right?).
Even so I would like to go back to Europe and spend some time walking the streets where so much history can be lived. I would love to walk around visualizing the history of the area as I toured many sites trying to learn more about the challenges and struggles and as well as the happy times that occurred there over the last thousand years. I would find this to be a fascinating adventure.
I have heard many stories about the trek of the Mormon Pioneers, and I think it would be interesting to replicate this experience by traveling across America and into the Salt Lake Valley. I think it would be very exciting to arrange for a team of oxen to pull a covered wagon across the country and experience the hard work, dangers, and frustrations the early pioneers must have endured.
I think it would be fascinating to go to Iraq which is where Babylon was located and visit the site where Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den. I would like to stand on the spot and envision his challenge of calming the lions down and perhaps even playing with them. I would like to visit that part of the world and learn more about the ancient culture and the people that once inhabited the area as well as observe what it looks like today.
I can envision early Christians being herded into the Roman Colosseum and then having half-starved lions turned loose on them as these unfortunates were being attacked and hacked to death before being eaten. The most interesting part of this piece of history is that some historians claim that the early Christians wanted to be in the Colosseum in order to die as martyrs.
I have been fortunate to have lived in Rome, but I would like to go back and spend more time exploring and learning more about the history of this great society.
I would like to visit the Red Sea and stand where Moses stood as he pondered the dilemma of convincing his people to cross that sea. I wonder what his challenges were in convincing the people to trust him enough to cross. I would also like to observe what this country is like compared to now?
In summary, the real places I would like to visit would be places my family could go and enjoy with me even if it’s no farther away from home than the city park.
Happy Failing Forward,
1. O’Neill, Tim. People in the Middle Ages Get Rid of Human Waste? Found in QUORA – Dec. 24, 2013.
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