From ancient sewers to the first flush: toilet culture and history

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From ancient sewers to the first flush: toilet culture and history

The history of mankind is full of many turning points that changed the course of our civilization. Although we don’t think much about it today, the emergence of the toilet was also a very important event for human civilization. But the emergence of modern toilets would have happened within thousands of years. Today’s toilets are designed for a very unique purpose, moreover, with human comfort and hygiene in mind. However, thousands of years ago, the concept of a toilet was very different than it is today. Toilets were also of great importance in the lives of ancient societies. For example, in ancient Egypt it was considered a sign of social status. Toilets were one of the places citizens living in the Roman Empire preferred to socialize! Let’s take a quick look at the history of toilets.

Toilets in the modern sense were first used in ancient Egypt

“Indoor” toilets first appeared in the fertile lands of ancient Egypt, about 5,000 years ago. However, for the ancient Egyptians, the convenience of using a home toilet was not primarily among the features a toilet should have. Because the toilets were not ordinary places where the Egyptians only met their human needs. Toilets were also of great importance in the social life of ancient Egypt…

Toilets were a status symbol in ancient Egypt

As it is today, there was a very important concept in the daily life of ancient societies: status! Throughout history, some societies have used gemstones as a sign of status. In some societies, physical strength was the most important indicator of status. However, the most important indicator of status in ancient Egypt was the toilet!

The wealthy of ancient Egypt had toilet seats in their homes made of limestone, so that they could have the status they deserved in social life. The poor of Egypt used an ordinary board with a hole in the middle.

The first sewage system in history appeared in Pakistan around 2500 BC.

the toilet

Residents of the city called Mohenjo-daro in Pakistan built a sewage system using bricks to drain toilet waste from the city. Some historians believe that the area where the sewer line is located is also home to the world’s first public toilet…

In the Roman Empire, people used toilets to socialize.

The ancient Romans were quite clean people compared to many civilizations before and after them. In the ninth century BC, public toilets and sanitation systems were extremely common in many parts of the empire. However, toilets meant much more to Roman citizens than places where human needs were met. Romans often gathered at latrines to socialize. In fact, many political figures in Rome in particular preferred latrines to exchange ideas on political issues.

Medieval toilets were very interesting.

the toilet

Medieval toilets were located in small rooms called “garderobes” inside large castles. However, the castle latrines were designed to form a ledge on the outside wall of the castle. In this way, toilet waste can be easily disposed of. A pit was dug for the evacuation process, usually at the level of the restrooms, and waste was accumulated in these pits. The officers, who were later called “night laborers”, were cleaning up the waste accumulated in the pits.

On the other hand, the traditional medieval toilet architecture posed a great danger to people living in castles. During the difficult siege, some intrepid enemy soldiers managed to enter through the latrine spaces on the outer walls of the forts. For this reason, especially after the 1300s, iron gratings were used in the castle toilet seats to prevent enemy soldiers from entering.

The idea of ​​clean toilets first appeared in 1449.

A man named Thomas Brightfield, who lived in England, designed a toilet with a storage tank for accumulating rainwater and a mechanism for discharging waste. However, the first example that can be considered the ancestor of the modern siphon was invented in 1596 by a man named John Harrington in England. This great invention also caught the attention of the royal family. So much so that Harrington designed a toilet for Queen Elizabeth I. However, in England at that time, there was no sanitation system suitable for using flush toilets. For this reason, it took a long time for flush toilets to become widespread.

The “great smell” incident that took place in London, England, in 1850 was one of the most important events that changed the history of the toilet.

the toilet

London has been home to public toilets since the 14th century. The town’s mayor, Richard Whittington, had a public toilet built in 1421 called Whittington House. Whittington House consists of two separate sections for men and women and a total of 128 toilets. In the following period, different public toilets were opened in different parts of London. However, almost all the waste contained in these toilets was sent to the famous Thames …

This is why the event called the Great Smell occurred in 1850! The waste accumulated in the river for decades caused an unbearable smell and various epidemics with the effect of hot weather. So much so that even some deputies who couldn’t stand the stench found the solution to leave the capital! Forced to take action by the great smell, the authorities have begun work to build a new 1,800km sewer line in London. This event spread the sewage system throughout Europe in the following years and played an important role in changing the concept of the toilet.

Home toilets, which first appeared in ancient Egypt 5,000 years ago, became popular in the second half of the 20th century.

the toilet

For hundreds of years, toilets were “outdoor” places due to the imperfection of sewage and evacuation systems. However, the development of technology has allowed toilets to change dramatically …

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