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The History of the Toilet

The History of the Toilet

In today’s modern world of self-flushing toilets, bidets, heated toilet seats, and Poo~Pourri, it’s hard to imagine how different, minimalistic and stinky our ancestors had it. Join us as we take a bathroom blast through the past and reminisce on just how far we’ve come.

The Stone Age (8700 BC to 2000 BC)

In the time of the loincloth, they would designate a certain corner of the cave to be the family "pooping corner." One by one, the men and women of the cave sweet cave would hover in the corner with nothing but themselves and their thoughts to relieve themselves. The smell wasn't something that particularly bothered them though, considering the competing scent of smoke, body odor, and meats of varying freshness.  On the bright side, the lack of toilet seat extinguished any possibility of an argument about the correct status of the aforementioned toilet seat.

Ancient Rome (800 BC – 300)

What seemed like technology far before their years, the Romans created the first ever documented sewer system, the Cloaca Maxima. Built in 800 BC, the sewer still flows to this day under the streets of Rome. Once the empire began to fall, however, in sixth century AD, the sweet days of clean water and sanitation were flushed down the john. "The lands were overrun by barbarians, and basic hygiene plunged into a long and dark decline." Toilets of the World, by Morna E. Gregory and Sian James.

Victorian Era (1558 – 1603)

In England in 1596, A Sir John Harrington had built something, well before his years, for his godmother, Queen Elizabeth I. Harrington built the world’s first flush toilet with a water reservoir. The Queen, who was very fond of her godson, was thrilled with the practicality of this new loo. Unfortunately, however, the rest of society found this invention offensive and ridiculed Sir Harrington; he never made another one after that. It took 200 odd years, in 1775 by Alexander Cummings, for another invention like Sir Harrington's to ever be recreated. 

Industrial Revolution (1760-1840)

The next big trend in latrines to hit households (or their yards) was the outhouse. The outhouse, or "house of office" as they know it in England, became a popular and long overdue sanitary option for going to the bathroom. The original privies, as explained by Gary Moore in his lecture "The History and Evolution of the Outhouse," were merely pits dug in the ground with a small shed surrounding them. When the pits would get full they would attach horses to the little shacks and have them pulled over a new pit in the ground; later going back and filling in their old pit. Eventually, Paul Revere established a law that stated, instead of moving their commodes they were to be emptied by a professional; enter the original plumber.

Pooping 2.0

With today’s modern technology we have turned pooping into a nearly luxurious experience. We have amenities that would make even the fastest people on Wall Street take a minute and relax in the loo. Now we can take a seat upon a heated toilet seat, charge our phones while we scroll through Facebook, or even get a cleansing and refreshing blast from a bidet. There is even a toilet now, the Alauno, that comes with built in speakers and LED lights for a one-of-a-kind experience and party on the potty. Being comfortable, clean and entertained is not enough though, we now don’t even have to smell our business with the odor fighting magic of Poo~Pourri. You can leave the bathroom in a better mood, and a sweet smell for the person who follows.

What will they—we—think of next?

Posted March 06, 2017 by


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