Who Really Invented The Toilet – Sir John Harrington (also known as Harrington) was a poet – an amateur and not a very successful one! But there was no need to remember his poem. Something more “down to earth” should be his legacy.
He was a courtier to Queen Elizabeth I, but was expelled from court for telling dangerous stories and exiled to Kilston, near Bath.
Who Really Invented The Toilet
During his “exile”, 1584-91, he built himself a house and designed and installed the first flush toilet, which he called Ajax.
Who Invented The Toilet?
Harrington proudly showed off his new invention and the Queen tried it herself! She was apparently so impressed that she ordered one for herself.
His water closet had a pan with an opening at the bottom, closed with a leather cover. A system of arms, rods and weights drew water from the well and opened the valve.
It was generally emptied from an upper window into the street below, and in French was called “Gardez-Lo” by the people below. The phrase “gardez-l’eau” may be the origin of the English nickname for the bathroom, “loo”.
It was almost two hundred years later in 1775 that the first flushing water closet was patented by Alexander Cummings of London, a device similar to Harrington’s Ajax.
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In 1848 the Public Health Act decreed that every new house must have a “w.c., privy, or ash-hole”. It took almost 250 years for Sir John Harrington’s water bath to be universalized… It cannot be said that the British eagerly embraced all new inventions despite royal approval!
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For more than 200,000 years, humans have been nomadic, living in small groups spread over a vast land. Then about 10,000 years ago, some people settled in different parts of the world and started farming. Villages expanded and turned into densely populated cities.
And that’s when garbage became a problem. City dwellers cannot conduct their business in confined spaces, scattered across the landscape. They had to live where they ate, slept and lived 24/7, along with many others. We had a new solution.
But archaeological evidence shows that it was not immediate. Although clay pots and pits were invented early, millennia passed the world’s first cities (about 6,500 years ago) and flushing (between 3,000 and 5,200 years ago). Like many ancient technologies, toilets seem to have been invented independently in different cultures – and went through many stages of innovation before you find them in use today.
So take a seat – perhaps on your Chinese throne – and let’s delve into the ancient history of the bathroom. It turns out that toilets and their contents tell a lot about the people of the past.
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Skin history is uneven. Depending on the building materials and the local climate, the remains of ancient baths may have survived for centuries. And in different times and places, archaeologists were not always interested in digging them up.
University of Pennsylvania archaeologist Jennifer Bates (who recently taught a college course on bathroom archeology) says: “There are a lot of specific cases, but … trying to fit it into a larger narrative Not an easy task.” the first of these). his type).
Of course, the title depends on how you define bathroom. The word can refer to cesspools that dump waste into sewers, cisterns that are emptied by hand, or pits designated for cesspools. But a piece of antique furniture may not be enough. For example, Neanderthal fossils were found approximately 50,000 years ago. “We can think of it as a bathroom, but it’s not a specific place that they set aside to do a job,” Bates explains.
About 4,500 years ago, the Mesopotamians built seats in trenches. In their ancient cities, such as Ashna and Nozi, archaeologists found brick seats covered with waterproof bitumen. The waste flowed through an opening at the bottom and through a clay pipe into the pit.
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One of the first flush toilets from Mesopotamia. (Credit: Antonio, G.P. et al. 2016 Sustainability/Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago)
Credit for the first flush toilets goes twice to the people of the Mediterranean island of Crete and the Indus Valley civilization of present-day Pakistan and India. About 4000 years ago, both societies had complex systems of plumbing and sanitation. Scholars say this water engineering was unprecedented until classical Rome (2,000 years later) or even until the 19th century.
One of the earliest known lava chambers was found in the Minoan palace of Knossos in Crete. Based on the reconstruction, it consisted of a wooden seat located in a “flush channel” – tunnels that carried water from reservoirs on the roof to underground drains. Other Minoan toilets studied by archaeologists probably contained corn water. Similar flashers were created at the same time 2,500 miles away from the Indus Valley Civilization.
But not everyone in these communities had a toilet connected to public sewage. From house to house, city to city, the availability of toilets depends on both individual wealth and infrastructure.
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“Different parts of different cities will be connected,” Bates explains. He adds that identifying a house with a toilet indicates “who is in the river.”
A picture of a bathroom in the living area of the palace of Minos. (Credit: Antonio, G.P. et al. 2016 Sustainability)
In Roman times (200 BC to 500 AD), public baths had luxurious toilets with many seats. These long stone benches, with evenly spaced holes, sat continuously in a water channel intended for drainage. Another puddle of water ran along the base of the toilet bench, which scientists think was used to wash sponges on the wood, like toilet paper.
The holes in these few seats were closely spaced, so the use of the toilet was not private. Ancient texts from the time confirm this and describe bathrooms as places of socialization.
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In some houses you can find toilets for one (or two), but they probably do more health harm than good. Toilets were usually in or near the kitchen because they also served as garbage collectors. Grasshoppers and food waste are emptied into the ditch or directly onto the road, not into the drainage system.
And defecating in the streets was a problem—so common that researchers interpreted signs and graffiti to encourage it.
For example, an inscription from Rome: “Twelve gods and goddesses and Jupiter, the greatest and the best, will be angry with anyone who urinates or starves here.” One found in Pompeii was clear: “If you climb up against the walls and we catch you, you will be punished.”
More than the history of the toilet, archaeologists have gained considerable knowledge from ancient toilets. Studying these features “gives you a huge amount of information, and then you can start to build an archaeological story about where someone went to the bathroom,” Bates says.
A Potted History Of The Toilet
Waste from toilets indicates food and disease. For example, researchers analyzed the sewage content of toilets buried in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. Although associated with low-class houses and shops, the remains show a healthy variety of foods including figs, eggs, olives, and fish. Shellfish, spices and herbs.
Other studies focus on parasites. An analysis of 2,000-year-old toilets along China’s Silk Road, a recent JAS paper: reports found roundworms, tapeworms and other intestinal bugs, shows that travelers spread disease over great distances.
Toilets can also reveal social aspects of past cultures. As Bates explains, “where you go to the bathroom, how you go to the bathroom are divided by class, gender, religion.” The distribution of spaces in the plots reflects social divisions and cultural beliefs about hygiene and property.
“There are certain things every man should do,” he says. “Every day … it comes down to eating, sleeping and pooping.” Bathrooms are a hobby archive that we all share.
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It is widely believed that Thomas Creeper invented the flush toilet, but this is not true – the first one came almost 100 years ago.
There were many types of toilets