LIFE

The Toilet: Humanity’s Greatest Invention

Trek with me from Islamic toilet etiquette to Japanese diagnostic loos. Nothing bog standard about it.

There’s not a single person reading this now that hasn’t used a toilet at some point in their lives. Whether it’s your standard throne or your stripped back squatter, everyone has used a bog. It just struck me as impressive that something so simple in design could have permeated the entire modern world. So I spent a few hours reading about toilets. That’s what I do.

First up, here’s a little fact that may well make you appreciate how lucky you are to have a toilet at all: according to The Global Water Supply and Sanitation Assessment 2000 by the World Health Organization, only 40% of the people of the world have “good excreta disposal facilities”. See? You mustn’t take your bog for granted. That’s point number one. Now for some history.

Ancient Toilets

History of the Toilet - Green Glazed Pigsty Model - Hand Dynasty

Some historians call the third millennium BC the “age of cleanliness”, because it was around this time that toilets began to crop up independently in many populations of the world. In Moheno-Daro, Pakistan, at around 2800BC some of the most advanced toilets on the planet for the age are found.

These dunnies were made of brick and wood attached to a chute. Simple but effective. Sir Mortimer Wheeler, a respected archaeologist in India in the 1940’s said, “The high quality of the sanitary arrangements could well be envied in many parts of the world today.”

The picture above shows a weird toilet from the Han Dynasty in China from 25-200 AD with a model pig sty attached. Not exactly sure WTF that’s all about, but still, nice to look at while you’re doing the poopy I suppose?

☛ Up Next: Portraits Of People Who Have Been Abducted By Aliens


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