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Old 26th July 2006, 07:52 PM   #1
Tim Simmons
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Unhappy Scurvy

I have been searching copper and brass knives from the Sahel on the net and was sent to a site about scurvy. Scurvy was surely a problem in these regions. With people not having a scientific knowledge of scurvy, I can see that taboos could be formed in the hope of avoiding the mysterious malaise that the onset of scurvy would bring. The site was more interested in modern outbreaks of scurvy as in refugee camps, but it all helps in trying to get a handle on the past from areas of the world where truly interested documentation is sadly lacking.
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Old 26th July 2006, 09:12 PM   #2
Tim Simmons
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Default Just thinking aloud

Perhaps only the lower orders worked and handled iron and other metals. I think that is an accepted fact. The diet for these people would have been poor at the best of times, in the aristocratic society in which they lived and therefore they would have been the most susceptible to out breaks of scurvy. As it is impractical for the aristocracy and those near the emirs to live without touching metals, magic and taboo must have formed so as not to catch what the lower orders and slave classes had "Scurvy" but still be able to function in society. It is possible that at the very top only noble metals touched the hand, then other metals in a descending hierarchy, maybe with the addition of magic symbols were made to suffice for the rest of the community. I am only throwing question into the ring but I feel they are valid.
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Old 26th July 2006, 09:57 PM   #3
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Iteresting theory Tim, it seems quite plausible to me.

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Old 28th July 2006, 11:10 PM   #4
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Likely concept, Tim.
I think I 'm right in saying that during the Great Plague ...the black was believed that smelling flowers would prevent 'bad air' infecting them with plague. The truth of the matter was the fleas carried by the rats caused the outbreak. It was socio-economics which helped the aristocracy avoid the disease because they were less likely to come in regular contact with rats(and the fleas they carried) However, the overwhelming stench of poor sanitation and death 'encouraged'...those that could afford it ...posies of flowers to mask the smell. 2+2 were added together to make 5, as the rich were less prone to the plague and could afford frivalous bunches of flowers it was assumed that it was the flowers that prevented infection. From this it was deduced that the air was 'bad' and was causing the 'black death'.
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Old 28th July 2006, 11:51 PM   #5
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Daniel Defoe's Preparations For The Plague and The Plague Year are chilling reading ; interesting how people dealt with it in different ways .
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Old 30th July 2006, 11:16 AM   #6
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Another very interesting read on the topic of scurvy is the book "Limeys, The Conquest of Scurvy" by David Harvie. Whilst it concentrates most on the effect of scurvy on the British Navy, it also touches on the effect of scurvy in other populations. The various unsuccessful treatments for scurvy were numerous and included being buried in sand up to your neck and drinking sea water. No mention in this book of taboos regarding scurvy but certainly such taboos did exist around many diseases. With regards the Black Plague I don't think I have read a more comprehensive and chilling book than "The Black Death" by Philip Ziegler.
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