How did the Romans go to the bathroom?

I’m sure you’ve asked yourself this question before, although not necessarily with Romans as the subjects.  What about the Greeks, the Babylonians, the ancient Chinese, the Mayans, and so on? And there’s not just the matter of where to dispose of your excreta, but how you clean your nether parts thereafter. In India, cleaning with a hand and water is done frequently, but according to this video, that simple solution (which does spread germs) wasn’t used by the Romans. Remember, there were many centuries without paper.

There’s probably a book to be written on this—and I bet one has. (It would be a good book to keep in the bathroom for throne reading.) But in the meantime, gross yourself out with this video, which answers the question. The idea of a reusable sponge on a stick, however, is really, really disgusting.

But it’s history, Jake!

92 Comments

  1. Randall Schenck
    Posted January 13, 2020 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    I am reminded of that old limerick we all know:

    In days of old when knights were bold and toilets weren’t invented,
    they would lay by the road and dump their load,
    And walk back home contented

    • Frank Bath
      Posted January 13, 2020 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

      A Brit version.
      In days old old when knights were bold and lavatories weren’t invented, they wiped their arse on a lump of grass and walked away contented.

      • jhs
        Posted January 13, 2020 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

        That’s how my dog does it.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted January 13, 2020 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

          😝

  2. Posted January 13, 2020 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    lol – thank you! I write sci-fi not historical fiction but…I’ve always wondered about toilets as they’re rarely mentioned in literature, even more modern stories. I think my interest was piqued by something I saw as a child, a movie about people in a lifeboat. And yes, I did wonder. And shudder. 🙂

  3. Nicholas K.
    Posted January 13, 2020 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    I once spent an evening dinner at the Smithsonian with Dr Andrew Jones, UK’s foremost expert on ancient feces. One of the funniest evenings ever. That man had stories!

    • Posted January 13, 2020 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

      I bet he couldn’t beat our host’s story on a post here some years ago, about the grossest things he and his readers had ever seen. I still can’t “unsee” the scene he described.

      • Posted January 13, 2020 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

        That was the first thing I thought of too.

      • Nicholas K.
        Posted January 14, 2020 at 8:44 am | Permalink

        I’d like to see a second round of that discussion. I’ve seen some things.

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted January 15, 2020 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

        Is that the story about the bot fly? Or a discussion I’ve forgotten.

  4. Terry Sheldon
    Posted January 13, 2020 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    Several years back there was a TV series based around Spartacus. It seemed to me while watching it that they went to some trouble to make it accurate in many aspects. One scene comes to mind in which two characters were having a conversation while partaking of a public toilet facility. There was an attendant passing around the reusable sponges. Not a job for me, thanks!

  5. Randall Schenck
    Posted January 13, 2020 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    I’m guessing some of us are old enough or lived rural enough to remember the outhouse. Some were better than others but it was always a place of odor. I recall in small town Iowa in the 50 some of the poor areas of town still had them.

    • Roger
      Posted January 13, 2020 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

      But did they have a poop knife? (It’s an inside reddit joke. Don’t bother googling it because it’s too stupid.)

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted January 13, 2020 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

        Had not heard of that one. Live and learn.

        • Roger
          Posted January 13, 2020 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

          Yikes replied by accident haha. Wasn’t meant to be a reply to anyone. Sorry about that.

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted January 15, 2020 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

        I do hope that a “poop knife” is different to a “palate knife”.
        Well, actually, maybe not.

    • Terry Sheldon
      Posted January 13, 2020 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

      Along the same lines were the “pit toilets” in some state park campgrounds we frequented when I was a lad.

      • Posted January 13, 2020 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

        I still visit those when adventuring in the woods during the summer. I try to not drop my camera down the loo.

        • RGT
          Posted January 13, 2020 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

          I always worry about dropping my keys or my wallet into the pit.

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted January 15, 2020 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

        I was working on a rig in the Russian taiga a few years ago. Waking up one morning I discovered a commotion at the shit pit. A bear had fallen into it. This occasioned considerable debate – on the topic of how to get the bear out without damaging the pelt. Eventually they lassooed it before shooting it and hauling it out to the hosepipe.
        I’m quite glad to have been there in summer. The mosquitos were something to die for (an aim they were fully in concert with), but I really didn’t fancy using that plank at minus forty.

    • phoffman56
      Posted January 13, 2020 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

      Rural I am, and psychologically rural I’ve always been.
      In Canuck campgrounds, certainly 40 years ago, the following greeted you frequently on the back of the door of the ‘can’:

      Some come to sit and think
      but most come to shit and stink.

      Randall’s less ribald version?:

      Some puzzled out the theorem of Schroeder,
      but most intensified this place of odour.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted January 13, 2020 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

      We had an out house when I was in a kid and that was in an otherwise modern (small) city. In Kiwi parlance it’s known as a long-drop. I hated it.

      It wasn’t until at least 1970 when I was 6 or 7 that we got a proper flushing indoor toilet.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted January 13, 2020 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

      As a small child of about 3, I used to fear falling in the outhouse toilet because my wee bum was so small compared to the toilet hole. I used to have my mom hold my hands as I terrifyingly peed.

      • Posted January 13, 2020 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

        Yow! To have such a fear at the tender age of 3 and have to remember it for the rest of your life! Terrifying!

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted January 13, 2020 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

          It was scary! I held on to my mom’s hands for dear life and there was a real chance that if she let go, I could fall in.

          • Posted January 13, 2020 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

            I’m sure it’s a real possibility. Of course they’ve portrayed this in many movies, “Slum Dog Millionaire” comes to mind.

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted January 13, 2020 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

              Yes, I think I found that scene scary and relatable.

            • gravelinspector-Aidan
              Posted January 15, 2020 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

              I was told essentially the same story by a Nigerian. Back in 1987. I’m sure it wasn’t new then.

    • Helen Hollis
      Posted January 13, 2020 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

      My mother grew up in Finland, and they had an outhouse. It is interesting how Fins used outhouses as a way to kill Russians.

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted January 15, 2020 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

        Pressure switch under the plank, and an “IED”. At least that would be my first approach to the problem.

  6. Posted January 13, 2020 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps this will be the subject of Pinker’s next book. The improvements in this area are at least as important as those inspired by the Enlightenment. Ok, not really. 😉

    • phoffman56
      Posted January 13, 2020 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

      The Better AssWipe of our Nature ??

      • Posted January 13, 2020 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

        Bidets Now: The Case for Cleaning without Touching

        • phoffman56
          Posted January 13, 2020 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

          Maybe — ‘Enwipenment Now’.

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted January 13, 2020 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

            Ha ha winner winner chicken dinner. Or maybe winner winner sponge on a stick!

      • phoffman56
        Posted January 13, 2020 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

        I should have pluralized my tird word–oops, third word.

        Canadian parliament at one time had three big political parties, before the so-called Progressive Conservatives and the very right-wing Reform Party got themselves united. The latter party was led by Preston Manning. The Liberal Party was led by Jean Chretien who was Prime Minister. With fewer seats were the P.C., and in THIRD place was Manning.
        Politicians, at least federal leader types, were by then supposed to be competent in both official languages i.e. english and french. However Chretien was jokingly often referred as competent in neither language.

        I’m getting there, getting there!

        Anyway, Chretien turned that to his advantage, by often referring to Manning, quite slowly and loudly in the national House of Parliament as : “Da leader of Da Tird
        Party”.

        Hopefully here all ‘get’ the ‘joke’, in the context of this discussion. I’m not sure the media ever did. Nobody talked about it, AFAIK.

        • Posted January 15, 2020 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

          One thing that is fun about bilingualism is cross-language puns.

          And yes, Chretien is … an interesting communicator, to say the least, in both languages.

  7. Mark Cagnetta
    Posted January 13, 2020 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    I read once that the sea sponges they used for wiping were soaked in urine for cleansing.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted January 15, 2020 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

      I haven’t heard that. I have heard vinegar – which might be a little wince-inducing about the haemorrhoids, but it’s one more thing you can do if a brew of wine turns bad. They didn’t have pasteurisation after all (they hadn’t invented French yet, for him to write in).
      I have heard – from more than a few directions – that a standard method of washing and bleaching white linen was to wash it in aged (oxidised? urea goes to something like formaldehyde?) urine, then hang it out to dry in the Sun (loadsa-UV).

  8. John Conoboy
    Posted January 13, 2020 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    Pooping in the out of doors is a major issue, especially on mountains. Campsites on popular climbing mountains like Rainier, Denali, even Everest are polluted, which can be a problem as the source for water for cooking and drinking is to melt snow–watch out for the yellow snow. The problem got so bad at Mount Rainier that climbers are expected to put their poop in plastic bags and carry it out.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted January 13, 2020 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

      It’s a major problem in NZ in our national parks and even on the sides of roads, especially with tourists. In some places the provision of toilets hasn’t kept up with the increase in tourist numbers, but in others people are just inconsiderate and gross.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted January 13, 2020 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

        Ewwww. In some parks in Canada you are supposed to carry out or bury your waste especially if it’s in the far north. I am glad I’ve never encountered unexpected poo while in NZ.

        • phoffman56
          Posted January 13, 2020 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

          In another thread here a few months ago, I did refer to a perfectly serious book, only softcover I think, but still available, which is entitled “How to Shit in the Woods”. She apparently inspired a few politicians and park wardens to introduce some of these measures.

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted January 13, 2020 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

            Yeah I think that book was popular in the 70s. I remember my dad mentioning it a lot.

    • ladyatheist
      Posted January 13, 2020 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

      You mean the bears polluted it?

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted January 15, 2020 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

      At the French Conversation group last night I was stumbling through talking about my holiday to the Alps and camping at the infamous “Snell’s Field”. At which point, Bob (also an intermittent mountaineer) started singing “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” sotto voce. To a fit of giggles from me, and confusion from the non-outdoorsy women making up the rest of the group.

  9. Posted January 13, 2020 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    In the great WWI documentary movie They Shall Not Grow Old, we learn in some detail how the soldiers dealt with this issue while out in the trenches. Hilarious. Glad to have not been there.
    Very good movie, btw, and now you can easily rent or buy it.

  10. Ken Kukec
    Posted January 13, 2020 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    I dunno, and don’t even wanna think about number two. But I bet the Romans were all wondering if the other folks were peeing in the communal baths.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted January 13, 2020 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

      I was thinking about the peeing in the tepidarium too. Or farting in the laconicum. I’m sure there were Roman comedies written about it somewhere.

      • Posted January 13, 2020 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

        I had read or heard somewhere that the ruling class would have huge feasts, and they would periodically empty their stomachs so that they could keep eating. So they had a ‘regurgitarium’.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted January 13, 2020 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

          That’s actually false. They didn’t do that and you may be thinking of the “vomitorium” which people thought was such a vile thing but it’s just a big ass exit out of an amphitheatre or similar building where lots of people exited a building all at once.

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted January 15, 2020 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

        You’ve now got me wondering what Robert Grave’s source was for his asides about Julius Caesar and a radish on the eve of … was it crossing the Rubicon, or the Milvian Bridge?
        If I still worked with his son, I’d ask. But his notes are probably in some archive somewhere.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted January 15, 2020 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

          I’m sure, as he received the standard Classic education of the time, he read everything Caesar wrote in order to learn Latin and he was most likely intimately familiar with Suetonius who wrote a lot about the Caesars.

          • gravelinspector-Aidan
            Posted January 17, 2020 at 8:32 am | Permalink

            I suspected Suetonius, but I’ve never read a translation cover to cover.

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted January 17, 2020 at 8:58 am | Permalink

              Me neither. I’ve only read excerpts so I’m just guessing but it was pretty much the thing people with a Classical education back then read.

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted January 17, 2020 at 8:58 am | Permalink

              Me neither. I’ve only read excerpts so I’m just guessing but it was pretty much the thing people with a Classical education back then read.

  11. Diana MacPherson
    Posted January 13, 2020 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

    The correct orientation of the toilet paper, in several of the images, was not lost on me.

    Those sewers would have been cleaned out by slaves. City sewers would have been cleaned out by city slaves and as you can imagine, city slaves didn’t have long lives.

    I don’t know that living in the countryside was better. You had no protection out there and were subject to any raiding party. If you were living in a villa and could pay for protection, you might be okay.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted January 13, 2020 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

      I thought of you when I noted the toilet paper orientation.

      I agree about living in the country too. And I doubt they just went in the fields too. I suspect they had a long-drop or similar. Many societies used human waste, and I bet Roman farmers did too. Urine is good for things like getting the fat off animal skins, getting the lanolin out of wool etc. Excrement was included in fertiliser for crops. There are still societies that use them for that.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted January 13, 2020 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

        Oh yeah Romans used urine for all kinds of gross things. I think they used poo as well.

        • Posted January 13, 2020 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

          so.. we are all wondering. Does the sponge-on-a-stick get stored sponge up or sponge down?

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted January 13, 2020 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

            I bet it gets thrown on the ground neither up not down. The poor slave that had to attend to it!

          • gravelinspector-Aidan
            Posted January 15, 2020 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

            AT LAST !

            An opportunity to impress upon people the importance of not getting the wrong end of the stick.

            Legendarily at least, that is the actual origin of the phrase. Whether philologists (would researching etymologies for phrases fall in their bailiwick? I can’t think of anyone better, offhand.)
            [searches] That’s a folk etymology, oft repeated, but rarely backed up with references. If I had access to JSTOR, this link might be useful, but I don’t, so I’m not sure.

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted January 15, 2020 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

        I heard an aside in an archaeology programme not long ago to the effect that the use of dung (human, livestock) for agricultural fertilizer wasn’t a … ahemm, well-spread idea until sometime in the Middle Ages.
        As an idea, it probably took a long time to spread. Peasents didn’t get a lot of chance to move around, and nobody much else cared.

  12. Posted January 13, 2020 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

    With reference to our host’s previous meditation on this matter, a sponge on a stick might be less startling than the activities of a hungry pig, but the latter would certainly be more hygienic.

    In fact, one could easily imagine a scenario where, similar to the domestication of dogs, pigs might have been domesticated and even brought evolutionary advantages, with a higher survival rates for those employing them in their bathrooms.

  13. Diana MacPherson
    Posted January 13, 2020 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

    I can’t help wonder about this kitchen toilet. Could it have been mistaken for those holes that contain wine containers (with the pointy bottoms)? Often the container holes are mistaken for toilets.

  14. max blancke
    Posted January 13, 2020 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

    Sure, “gross and disgusting” compared to modern western standards. But Roman toilet systems and practices were amazingly hygienic and clean compared to earlier urban systems. And also much better than many that came afterwards. A sponge, like a cloth diaper, is a thing that can be cleaned. Someone familiar with germ theory is going to be unhappy with a tersorium cleaned in vinegar. But it still beats using your left hand.

    Since we are in a general area of which I have some knowledge, I might add that single-use sponges would have been a bad idea, as gravity driven systems are prone to clogging if one introduces material not previously consumed.

    We have an 18th century sideboard, meant to be used in a formal dining room, with a compartment for a chamber pot. Which people would use during meals. I actually have a pretty good collection of such things. Right now as I am writing this, my drink is sitting on an old French mahogany commode, with a hidden pot within. The pot itself is porcelain, but was not designed with a porcelain lid. The wooden lid, lined inside with fabric, folds down to conceal but not seal the pot.
    At least with the roman system the waste, once it enters the system, is gone forever. washed away to the sea, instead of needing to be carefully carried away and dumped by a servant.

    I am not entirely sure if Trajan Rome was worse than Tudor London.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted January 13, 2020 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

      Tudor London was worse as people didn’t bathe as often. Bathing was built into the Roman culture. Besides, Trajan brick is the best brick!

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted January 15, 2020 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

      as gravity driven systems are prone to clogging if one introduces material not previously consumed.

      I don’t know about the rest of the world, but there was a minor focus in the UK press a year or so back on the delights of “fatbergs” blocking the country’s sewers. Well, to be honest, given the metropolitan focus of most of the meedja, the sewers of the centre of a foreign capital city. A fair amount of attention was give to the problem of using “wet wipes” of various sorts for arse-wiping, and for a brief time it looked possible that the product would be shamed to death. unfortunately their PR machines cranked out some industry standards about levels of maceration which such things should achieve and the subject has, ehemmm, dropped out of view again.
      Until the next time the sewers of central London block up. When there will be a renewal of the wailing and gnashing of teeth, and the cries of “Something Must Be Done” followed by the oozing of PR mollifications.

  15. ladyatheist
    Posted January 13, 2020 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

    … and then there’s the question of the menstruating women…

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted January 15, 2020 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

      Didn’t the Romans require them to stay in the house – or at least, not enter “sacred spaces”? (Which would include an awful lot of the forum, civic buildings, etc.)

  16. rickflick
    Posted January 13, 2020 at 11:39 pm | Permalink

    I was curious. But now I’m satisfied. Let’s turn our attention to something…anything, else.

  17. David Harper
    Posted January 14, 2020 at 1:10 am | Permalink

    I’d always understood that the sponges were soaked in vinegar, which would have provided at least a limited level of anti-bacterial action.

    Also, if you visit Roman sites such as the forts along Hadrian’s Wall, you discover that the toilets were communal: rows of seats, so you could chat to your neighbour whilst you and he got on with the business.

  18. Marou
    Posted January 14, 2020 at 3:20 am | Permalink

    As an aside, what is the squeamishness that demands a convoluted euphemism like ‘going to the bathroom’?

    • Posted January 14, 2020 at 4:48 am | Permalink

      There was a Bunuel film, maybe “Le charme discret de la bourgeoisie”, in which people “went to the toilet” in a common room but retired to separate small rooms to eat! It was considered disgusting.

      • revelator60
        Posted January 14, 2020 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

        The film was The Phantom of Liberty (1974), Bunuel’s follow-up to The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie.

    • phoffman56
      Posted January 14, 2020 at 8:47 am | Permalink

      USian.

      However, the even sillier “Ou est le restroom” used to elicit great laughter, and sometimes linguistic runarounds, from the guards at the Louvre –> ‘Why? Are you tired?’

      ‘bathroom’ is better than ‘washroom’ is better than ‘restroom’, I suppose. The “shitter” of my Yorkshire friend is more to my linguistic taste, as may have become obvious, though really that word refers more to the seeker of relief.

      • Marou
        Posted January 14, 2020 at 8:53 am | Permalink

        Lavatory or loo – short and succinct

        • rickflick
          Posted January 14, 2020 at 11:04 am | Permalink

          I’ve always been fond of watercloset.

        • Hempenstein
          Posted January 17, 2020 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

          There was a memorable line in some movie, “Excuse me, could you direct me to the Porcelain Facility.”

          I’ve used porcelain facility since then.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted January 14, 2020 at 8:57 am | Permalink

        I think “washroom” is the Canadian used word. We say “bathroom” and “washroom” interchangeably but other English speaking places say “toilets” which sounds crass to us. Weird since you’d think Canadians and Americans would be the crass ones.

        • phoffman56
          Posted January 14, 2020 at 9:01 am | Permalink

          Well, I probably make up for a good number of the non-crass ones in Ontario anyway.

        • Posted January 15, 2020 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

          I grew up with “bathroom”, in English speaking Montreal.

          Mind you, my parents grew up elsewhere. On the third hand though, the term was used outside our family …

  19. Posted January 14, 2020 at 4:46 am | Permalink

    He implies that the Pont du Gard was a sewer, which it definitely was not. It was an aqueduct (Why is that spelled with an “e”?) built to bring fresh water to the city of Nîmes.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted January 15, 2020 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

      He does rather. Then again, calling it a “pont” is just a touch on the wrong side of wrong as well.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted January 15, 2020 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

      He’s also pretty sloppy on the subject of the Roman army’s marching camps. I don’t know about their “every hour while marching” breaks on the (literal) road, but for their nightly camps they had chunky manuals of field procedures for the ambitious sergeant wanting to work his way up to centurion. Thou SHALT ditch and stake around thy marching camp. Thou SHALT make so many latrine seats per platoon (maniple?), or one per contubernium. Thou SHALT post sentries at so many per mille. And if thou dost not, thou are on a charge and likely to lose a stripe. Or gain several, at the whipping post.
      Obviously, the investment in marching camps would be somewhat different moving around between Etruscan town versus marching into the Teutoberg Forest. But then again, in the settled parts of the empire, there would be mansios all over the place (with permanent facilities), colonias settled with veterans and appropriate facilities.
      They took their army dead seriously, did the Romans. Such attention to the fighting man on the blunt end of a gladius wasn’t really seen again until … probably the introduction of firearms and the raising of standing armies in the 16th Century or so (training and equipping a musketeer cost a lot more then raising a rabble of agricultural labourers using modified versions of their agricultural tools).

  20. Bob
    Posted January 14, 2020 at 5:43 am | Permalink

    We US troops during the Vietnam War used outhouses in bases large and small.

    Most were small buildings with large holes cut in a wooden board that was a long bench over a 55-gallon drum cut into two halves. One sat on the hole and defecated into the drum.

    Soldiers who were being punished for some minor infraction were assigned the duty twice a day to pull the feces-filled drums out of the “shitter”, pour diesel fuel into the can, and burn it. This was called “shit burning detail.” The black smoke and stink were one of the first things a new soldier in-country became aware of.

    • Mark R.
      Posted January 14, 2020 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

      This was shown in great detail in Stone’s Platoon.

  21. Bruce Lilly
    Posted January 14, 2020 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    “There’s probably a book to be written on this—and I bet one has. (It would be a good book to keep in the bathroom for throne reading.)”

    Many types (picture books, childrens’ books, …): here’s an academic book with a preview available: https://books.google.com/books/about/Sanitation_Latrines_and_Intestinal_Paras.html?id=CDzWBgAAQBAJ

    The blurb:
    This book brings together experts from around the world to explore how sanitation affected our ancestors. By its end, readers will realise that toilets were in use in ancient Mesopotamia even before the invention of writing, and that flushing toilets with anatomic seats were a technology of ancient Greece at the time of the minotaur myth. While past views on sanitation were different to those of today, it is clear than many societies took sanitation far more seriously than previously thought.

    There’s even a latrine commandment in the Tanakh/Bible: D’varim (Deuteronomy) 23:13-14 (or 12-13 in some versions).

  22. Andrea Kenner
    Posted January 14, 2020 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

    Then there’s this “nugget” from PBS today: Dogs poop in alignment with earth’s magnetic field, study finds
    (https://www.pbs.org/newshour/science/dogs-poop-in-alignment-with-earths-magnetic-field-study-finds).

  23. Paul Britton
    Posted January 15, 2020 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    There’s a good video here…

  24. Hempenstein
    Posted January 17, 2020 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    Taking one or several steps back from the Romans, how did pre-humans go about this business? Neandertals? Earlier man?

    Are there any other species that need to wipe their butts? Hard to imagine how this was anything other than an evolutionary disadvantage. Or maybe the need comes largely from a modern diet?


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