The sewer system is where civilization starts. The origins of the toilet bowl and its “ancestors” may be traced back to antiquity. But who invited the toilet bowl?
According to most historians and architects, the first toilet prototype emerged in Mesopotamia about 3000 BC. The ones discovered at Mohenjo-Daro are somewhat younger than these (on the banks of the Indus River).
They represented a more complicated sewer system, in which sewage from latrines built on the exterior walls of homes flowed into street ditches that led to the city’s outskirts. A masonry box with a wooden bench served as the toilet. A discovery no less precious and ancient may be found in the vaults of the British Museum. The Sumerian queen Shubad’s carved throne seat from Ur’s tomb dates from 2600 BC.
The ancient Egyptian toilets, which we know about mostly from excavations at Tell el-Amarna (14th century BC) – Pharaoh Ehnaton’s capital – are not linked to the sewage system. Behind the bathroom in wealthy homes was a lime-whitened latrine. A slab of limestone was put on a brick box with sand and required to be cleaned on a regular basis.
A portable toilet constructed of wood, beneath which was put a clay pot, was discovered in one of the ancient Egyptian tombs in Thebes, dating from the same century as the city of the renowned king.
Archaeologists excavating a tomb of one of the kings of the Western Han Dynasty, which governed China from 206 BC to 24 BC, found a toilet in Henan Province. There’s a stone bench, plush armrests, and flowing water nearby.
Of course, Rome cannot be avoided in the bathroom tale, the Eternal City – the major city of antiquity. The Cloaca Maxima is one of the city’s oldest engineering constructions (from the Latin Cluo – to clean). It was originally an open canal built in the 6th century BC to drain swampy land and discharge sewage. It dumped everything into the Tiber River. Each of the restrooms had its own branch of the cloaca, which eventually returned to the main highway. A seat with a hole was put immediately over the channel, allowing the waste products to be carried away by the running water.
For many centuries, the Cloaca Maxima was the world’s most sophisticated sewage system. The city’s population had grown to one million by the first century AD, so the cloaca had to be expanded to 7 meters in some places, and the employees who kept track of its maintenance swam across it in a boat.
It’s noteworthy to note that, like bathing, Roman’s toilet visit was a public affair. The chairs were arranged in a circle with no barriers between them. As a result, the joyful muttering was continually interrupted by a discussion about the empire’s destiny, and prominent customers were taken to the bathroom by Roman businessmen rather than the baths, as they are today.
The Romans were also responsible for the invention of heated chairs. The answer was simple: the robes allocated to the latrines heated the seat. The slave maintained the proper temperature by shifting from one seat to another, relying on the warmth of his soft seat.
Europeans used to dump the contents of the night pot straight out the window during the Middle Ages. Authorities in London devised a novel solution: they hired individuals to go around the streets and shout “Look out!” when they saw someone holding a pot.
The streets were so muddy and dirty that walking across them during the thaw was difficult. According to historical accounts, several German cities adopted stilts, or citizens’ “spring shoes,” without which difficult walking in the streets. The German fad for stilts, which were the only means to get through the congested streets, went so far that there were even stilts contests between two camps of people in France and Belgium in the Middle Ages.
In 1270, a rule was passed in Paris that made it illegal to “throw waste and dirt out of the top windows of homes” under the penalty of a fee.
When Leonardo da Vinci was summoned to King Francis I’s court, he was so disgusted by the smell of Paris that he built a flush toilet just for his patron. Water inlets, drains, and ventilation shafts are shown in the sketches of the great visionary. And, unlike the helicopter and submarine, Leonardo’s designs for the toilet have not been realized.
A type of “portable toilet” – a seat with a hole above and the reservoir removed from the interior – was popular among the aristocracy at the same time. Stools were disguised as chairs, benches, desks, and even bookshelves by furniture designers. Wood carvings, cloth draperies, and gilding were often used to adorn the whole building.
Sir John Harrington was the second person to think about civilized filthy water treatment. For Queen Elizabeth of England in 1596, he created a unique “night vase” that did not need to be taken out and cleaned on a regular basis. Water from a cistern attached from above was used to wash it on the spot.
History of the flushing toilet
In reality, here is where the flushing system’s history begins. Unlike flowing water, which constantly flowed, the flush system conserved water, which had to be brought to the rooms in buckets at the Queen of England’s residence. True, the castle had no sewage system except plumbing, so Harrington had to install a unique container under his toilet bowl. These issues pushed back the development of toilet technology by 200 years.
“Potty training” was another innovation of enlightened European aristocracy. For example, King Louis 14 of France (1638-1715) thought it rude to stop a discussion for a minor matter like the need to use the restroom.
The king would take a seat on a chair with a hole in the center and a pot on the floor underneath it. This “toilet bowl” was made of costly porcelain, gilt, and beautifully designed. It was trimmed with valuable stones, gilded, and delicately patterned. Similar parties were hosted by Catherine de Medici. When her husband died, she changed the color of the velvet covering the stool to black, presumably so that everyone could see how much she was grieving.
Ordinary aristocrats did not hesitate to use the pot in front of all the honest people at the time. A servant would deliver a pot to a cavalier or lady in need during a ball, and they would utilize it for its designated purpose right away.
However, whereas males dealt with pots with ease, women in luxurious attire had to do with some discomfort. As a result, in the 16th century, Burdala – elongated pots or vases that could be easily hidden under many skirts – were created for them.
Who invented the toilet bowl?
Alexander Cumming, a London watchmaker, invented the first toilet with a drain in 1775. Another inventor, Joseph Bramah, came up with a cast-iron toilet bowl with a flushable cover three years later.
This toilet bowl has previously proven to be a hit. Enameled steel was also used for the toilets. One may be seen at the Hofburg, the Habsburgs’ Vienna home. There were soon earthenware toilets, which were simpler to clean.
Many Europeans died around 1830 as a result of Asian cholera, which spread with the contaminated water. Typhoid was another epidemic. Governments have also considered it and chosen to spend more on sewage and, with it, on more convenient bathrooms.
Thomas Krepper is most known for inventing the “pull the chain” method, which he brought to the globe. He was the one who came up with the idea of using a curved flush pipe with a water seal to keep the toilet from coming into direct contact with the sewage system.
Toilets were first mass-produced in 1909 in Spain. A firm named Unitas, which means unity and association, took on this great task. Initially, they were referred to as sanitary ceramic goods. The excessively lengthy term was eventually replaced with the shorter “toilet bowl” – named after the maker. The basic, mundane-looking toilets we use today are the result of the labors of many great brains.