Ancient Toilets: Archaeologists Find a 1,500-Year-Old Porta Potty

According to a recent news article, archaeologists have discovered a 1,500-year-old toilet in remarkably good condition. This toilet is a large terra cotta pot, that upon first glance could have been used for anything really. But when scientists inspected it, they found a clue to it’s use hidden on its surface. But wait, why should you care about ancient toilets? Well, first of all, old stuff is cool. But secondly, and more importantly, finding relics of days long since past tells a lot about how civilizations have evolved over time and understanding our history informs our future.

What we’re trying to say is that unearthing ancient toilets is not just about knowing what happened to poop a long time ago. Hear us out…

The Evidence

Okay, if you clicked on that link, we know what you’re thinking. It just looks like a pot. Who says that’s a toilet? And how do they know? (This is the point where you’re going to want to skip ahead if gross stuff gives you the creepy crawlies.)

Turns out, parasites survive remarkably well when preserved in clay. So this terra cotta pot has been holding onto a clue that is tiny in size but big in magnitude. Yep, that’s right – they found a whipworm egg. Whipworms aren’t as common here in the US, but they have wreaked havoc in tropical regions for eons. They are passed through contamination on food, hands, and surfaces and once inside your body cause diarrhea. These worms live in the GI tract, making their home in your colon and eventually being passed through poop. Both humans and animals can get a number of different whipworm variations. However, the strain found in the pot was unique to humans. So, we can conclude that pot, was a potty back in the day!

Kind of cool, huh?

Who Cares?

Basic human needs haven’t changed over time. We still need food and water like we always have, and we still defecate like we always have. So, studying how we address those needs has changed provides us with a really interesting look into how our physical and functional capabilities have changed, how jobs and roles are assigned, and what our society values and prioritizes.

Because we’re in the portable restroom service business, we think this stuff is especially interesting because everything and everyone that came before us shaped what we do now. So, hearing about cool finds like this is kind of a nod to the earliest of our kind. Now, obviously, there were no formed plastic porta potty units with bright blue liquid in their tanks on the streets of Rome. But the toilets in people’s homes and gathering areas remain remarkably similar to what we have today, which goes to show you that the design is as practical as it is simple.

Basically, it tells us that portable toilets aren’t going anywhere anytime soon!

Kerkstra Luxury Portable Restroom Service Inc. provides portable restroom service across Michigan and luxury restroom trailers for all the states surrounding the Great Lakes. Take a look at our mobile restroom trailers and request a quote today!