1.1.1  Prehistoric and ancient civilisation

Religious laws, such as Moses’ Law, writings in the Old and New Testaments and laws in the Koran, played major roles in the lives of ancient peoples. These laws mainly concentrated on the provision of personal hygiene. Dead bodies and contaminated surfaces were known to be unclean or unhygienic to touch. The importance of burying human faeces was also strongly indicated. The importance of body cleanliness before praying was a motive for maintaining the integrity of hygiene with a religious practice.

The importance of hygiene and sanitation flourished at the times of Greek, Roman and Egyptian civilisation. The use of private and public baths and latrines, cleaning of the body, shaving the head for protection from lice infestation, and the construction of water pipelines and sewage ditches were widely observed. The transmission of schistosomiasis (bilharzia) was linked to bathing and swimming in the Nile River. In these civilisations, the focus was on personal hygiene (hygiene) and human waste management (sanitation).

1.1  Historical perspectives on hygiene and environmental health

1.1.2  Modern times