Everybody poops and almost always in a toilet.
But it wasn’t always the glamorous,
solo activity it is today.
It used to be a weird group thing in some places
and very disturbingly, pig food in others.
So how did we go from wildly defecating
in the streets to sitting comfortably on a piece of art?
Today, we’re going to look at the history of toilets.
But before we plop down, be sure to subscribe to Weird History
and let us know about what modern-day conveniences
you would like to hear more about.
Now let’s go see a man about a horse.
The first known toilet and sewer system
showed up on the scene in 2500 BC in Northern India
Way, way ahead of their time, houses in the Indus Valley could,
in theory, list a bathroom in the home listing
with rooms dedicated solely for numbers one and two,
These rooms contained drain pipes
that led to a central sewage system, which
could be flushed by simply dumping water into the toilet.
Sounds like a very familiar process so far.
Nothing weird yet.
Sewage was carried
through a simple grid system in pipes
made of brick and terracotta
or all the necessary components to build a house in Florida.
This allowed the waste to be carried
from multiple floors of the home and dumped into the nearest body of water
or what we today call Florida.
These pipes were relatively sophisticated
with accessible utility holes that
led from the street to the main drainage line
and wooden screens built into the end of the drainage lines to block solid waste.
Both of these were crafted to make maintaining the sewers as easy
and less gross as possible.
While many of the elements of this ancient infrastructure
do strongly resemble what we use today,
it would take thousands of very messy years before Western societies
would catch up with this sanitation system.
For a society that worshipped cats,
it’s only appropriate the Egyptians also used a bathroom like one.
Ancient Egyptian toilets were designed specifically with water conservation in mind.
They, in general, went hard on saving,
believing in only using H2O with the intent to reuse it.
With no running water in Egyptian homes,
even with dedicated rooms in which to bathe,
Egyptians would pour water onto themselves
at bath time, which was collected in jars
and reused for agriculture and gardening.
The Egyptian 1% would perch their rich behinds
onto limestone seats to relieve themselves
into containers filled with sand, which would be cleaned out by the servants
or what today is called owning a cat.
The lower plebeian class would also relieve themselves in pits of sand.
But their poor garbage butts had to settle
for a dumb wooden stool with a hole cut in the middle,
instead of a more glorious, non-splintery limestone.
What a dump for a dump.
If you weren’t hungry before watching this video,
you’re about to be starving, particularly for a bacon treat.
During the Han Dynasty in China,
farmers constructed toilets that were directly fed back into their pig pens.
Though these toilets looked similar
to a traditional outhouse,
there was one small difference.
Rather than the waste feeding into a hole in the ground,
it fed into the hole of a pig’s face.
The waste was routed into the pig pen,
which the pigs, being pigs, would then consume as a light snack.
Once this was digested, the waste
from this human waste turned into pig waste,
would be used as fertilizer,
thus eliminating the need for a sanitation system.
Include that in a verse of the circle of life, cowards.
Roman bathrooms sounded like quite the social scene.
Their bathrooms consisted of long stone or wooden benches
with holes scattered about for users to take care of their business,
while in a comfortable sitting position.
These elevated bench toilets
were purposely built to hover 1 to 2 feet above the ground
to make it easier to flush the water through,
using the sewage system that ran throughout the city.
And, no, there were no dividers between bench holes,
making going to the bathroom more of a group social activity
than a private moment to oneself.
Running water directed from Rome’s aqueducts flushed out the troughs beneath the toilets.
While a great way to flush away waste,
it was a bad way to prevent rat attacks
from open sewer lines and occasional fires from built-up methane.
But when it comes to ancient toilet systems, you win some and you lose some.
A bunch of potential rats on fire, however, can probably go in the losing column.
Medieval castle toilets relied on
the magical power of gravity to do most of the heavy lifting
of taking waste to a more desirable place away from the castle.
Castles were equipped with rooms dedicated for answering the call of nature.
But they were called garderobes, not bathrooms.
Garderobes were nothing to write home about,
with very few bells or whistles.
The humble garderobe was a small room
with chutes that led to a moat or communal cesspit
for the dung to float away or around the castle.
If the point of the moat is to keep enemies out of the castle,
a good addition to one would be floating poo
as a deterrent for crossing.
Before the indoor flushing toilets were popularized in the 20th century,
most people had to wander down to local cesspools
in order to relieve themselves, a pretty nifty inconvenience
for something where a convenience is paramount.
This could also be a potentially hazardous trip
to take at night.
So rather than march down to a lovely sounding, local cesspool,
people would have chamber pots in the room.
Chamber pots were small metal or ceramic containers
designed to hold waste that were later
emptied into pools or just sort of
casually thrown out the window,
a fun thing to be on the lookout for
when walking underneath a window, surely.
They remained a popular way to go to the bathroom
until World War II and are even used today in some parts of the world
where indoor plumbing is still not a thing.
Since chamber pots were a regular fixture
in people’s homes, they weren’t afraid to jazz them up a bit,
turning them into less of a pot to piss in and more
of a fun little home decoration to whiz in.
Some were ornate and made of ceramic or fine china.
And others were encased in decorative boxes.
Some were designed with verses like,
use me well and keep me clean and
I’ll not tell what I’ve seen, which now,
of course, has been reduced to simply, live, laugh, love.
当然 现在已简化为“生活 微笑 爱情”
Sir John Harington was a controversial writer
known for his risqué poetry and political writings.
He also invented a flush toilet in the late 16th century
as one typically does while writing poetry.
In The Metamorphosis of Ajax, Harington described the device
as an elevated cistern that dumped water into the toilet
bowl and removed waste via the pulling of a chain
or what sounds remarkably like a current day toilet.
Unfortunately, The Metamorphosis of Ajax was also a thinly veiled criticism
of the English government.
So the invention of a toilet somehow sandwiched between critiques
of the monarchy presumably got thrown out with the bathwater,
as they say, for nearly two centuries.
Queen Elizabeth I, however, did have one built for herself,
which is probably not the takeaway Harington was aiming for
when it came to a queen reading his anti-government pamphlet.
It wasn’t until the mid-18th century
when the flushable toilet was beginning to truly have a moment.
Scottish inventor Alexander Cumming
and English inventor John Brahma both
developed the advanced plumbing devices
that assisted in the creation of the modern-day flushing toilet.
Cumming created the S-trap, which allowed the water
to sit in the bowl and act as a barrier
against the foul smell of sewage and gas and also,
a popular source of drinking water for bad dogs.
Though Harington technically was the first to invent the toilet,
it was Cumming who held the patent.
It was during the installation process of Cumming’s design
when Braham developed a valve with a hinged flap
that sealed the water in the bowl.
Thanks to these two advances in the design of the toilet,
these babies began selling like hot cakes
with water closets growing in popularity
throughout the mid-18th and 19th centuries.
After World War I, all new buildings built in the UK
were required to include an indoor toilet.
We’ve come a long way
from throwing our dung out the window.
因销售抽水马桶 Thomas Crapper被人们熟知
Given his last name and how hilarious and ironic it would be,
Thomas Crapper is often falsely credited
as the inventor of the modern toilet.
In reality, Crapper was more like the band, Kiss, of toilets.
He didn’t invent the toilet, but he sure
knew how to market the crap out of it.
An early sanitation pioneer, Crapper is credited
for inventing the oddly beautiful U-bend plumbing trap
that is still used in toilets and sinks today.
Crapper displayed his toilet products in showrooms
and tried to sell his sanitation designs to the wealthy.
And, yes, Crapper was not the inventor of the flushing toilet.
But when people would draw the conclusion,
he didn’t go out of his way to correct them.
Why ruin it?
It was better this way.
Edward VII hired him to install dozens of
indoor bathrooms in several royal palaces,
which contributed to his fame.
But mostly, of course, it was that his last name
was Crapper, and his whole life was toilets.
George Jennings, a sanitation engineer
and autour toilet inventor, was the first
to propose the idea of installing
public flush toilets throughout London.
Jennings designed a series of toilets for use
at an art exhibit in 1851 that cost a penny per use.
Jennings’ art toilets that cost money for use were a big hit,
especially with poorer folk who couldn’t afford
a flush toilet of their own, but could
afford a penny to use one.
With these toilets being a bona fide hit,
Jennings proposed to build public facilities
at the Royal Exchange, a major commerce and business sector in London.
The government ignored this idea at first
with a strange belief that nobody would want a public bathroom,
claiming the results of several trial public bathrooms
proved they were bunk.
The Royal Society of Arts, the money
behind Jennings’ public toilets at the art show,
installed a handful of test pay toilets
around London, soon after to see if it was a thing people wanted.
The move ended up being a financial catastrophe,
even if its heart was in the right place.
In 1885, London officials finally
came around on Jennings’ idea several years after the plumber passed away.
The first facilities were built at the Royal Exchange,
but not by Jennings’ company, which seems
like kind of a real jerk move by the Royal Exchange.
As the population began to boom, so did
contagious diseases that spread like
wildfire, due to widespread unsanitary conditions.
Cholera, in particular, was the contagious disease du jour
whose spreading was aided greatly by poor sanitation systems.
Because of this, the dry toilet was invented
as a way to use the bathroom without water as the flushing mechanism.
But rather, it would divert waste
or use covering material such as peat
to absorb the liquid.
First invented by an English priest named
1873年 一位叫Henry Moule的神父
Henry Moule with a patent in 1873,
he was able to get the design in schools and public hospitals in England and India.
But despite cutting maintenance costs
and eliminating odors famously associated with sewage systems,
his design did not catch on.
We can thank this failure today for all of our wet toilets.
So what do you think?
Are you watching this video from a toilet?
We bet you are.
Be sure to wash your hands and check out
some of these other fine videos from our Weird History.
Everybody poops and almost always in a toilet.