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The History of the Toilet

Ask any person what one of the most developed pieces of technology in their home is, and you will get a smorgasbord of answers. Though the toilet will likely be far from the top of the list, the piece of plumbing has been consistently used and improved since before the times of ancient Greece.

Ancient times

3000 BC is referred to by historians as the "Age of Cleanliness"; toilets were invented around similar times in many distinct parts of the world. The Indus River Valley had some of the most advanced toilets of the era. They carved outhouses into the outer walls of their homes, and cut wooden seats to be placed on top of stone bowls. In many ways these are near identical to many campsite lavatories used today.

Early Sewers

The Age of Cleanliness also saw the rise of the first sewers and drain for toilets. The Indus River Valley housed some of the first sewer systems. A system of caverns helped drain off rainwater, and toilets were built to drain directly into these channels. Rome boasted on of the most advanced sewer systems of the day, but building drains directly into it was difficult. For that reason, most Roman toilets were part of public bath houses.

The Middle Ages

If the 3rd millennium BC is the Age of Cleanliness then the Middle Ages must be the age of dirt. Garderobes became popular in many upper class homes in Europe. Garderobes were flat pieces of wood with holes for users to sit on. They would be placed as far away from the main areas of the home as possible as the smells could be powerful. These toilets connected to plumbing that drained outside the manor home, but still lacked any connection to proper sewer systems.

For those too poor to install a garderobe in their home chamber pots became the norm. These were urns that a person would go to the bathroom into, and then carry outside the house to empty and rinse. In large cities chamber pots were emptied into larger bins of excrement. These bins were emptied by people known as fullers.

Flushing Toilets

In 1775, Alexander Cummings invented the S-trap, and with it the basic design of the modern toilet. This small piece of tubing is still crucial to toilets today. Thanks to the industrial revolution, and a widespread sewer development in London, the flush toilet exploded into popularity. Over the decades the design would improve to use less water and recharge faster.It may not seem like much of a modern marvel, but the toilet in your bathroom is the result of thousands of years of progress.
If you're ever having toilet troubles in your Franklin home call Kellie Plumbing at (317) 738-2707!