Archeologists discovered a portion of an indoor toilet seat as well as a pipe leading to an outdoor sewage pit. The toilet's upper portion was missing.
Using the toilet as we know it today primarily involves four steps: do your business, clean up, flush, and leave. Simple, right? But have you ever thought about how our ancestors went about relieving themselves? Ancient methods of well... getting rid of one's crap (literally) might have been less hygienic one might assume.
However, as Chinese archaeologists recently discovered, the porcelain potties we use now were once equivalent to a royal throne. Archaeologists were excavating two large palace buildings in the heart of Yueyang City when they found the remains of what may be the world's oldest known flush toilet, according to the China Academy of Social Sciences' Institute of Archaeology.
A press release on February 15, 2023, stated the details of the incredible discovery. Several ancient Chinese dynasties used the Yueyang City site as the capital city. During their excavation, the research team unearthed broken parts of an indoor toilet seat as well as a pipe leading to an outdoor sewage pit. The toilet's upper portion was reportedly missing.
The toilet is guessed to be between 2,200 and 2,400 years old, dating from the Warring States Period to the start of the Han Dynasty. The Warring States Period began in 475 B.C. and the Han Dynasty began in 206 B.C. The discovery is intriguing because modern flush toilets are thought to have originated in Victorian England.
According to China's Global Times, Fan Mingyang, a design expert in ancient tools, said that the toilet is "deceptively advanced" due to the modern water drainage system. Liu Rui, a member of the excavation team, said that the "luxury object" would have been used only by high-ranking members of the palace discovered in China's Shaanxi province, reports China Daily.
He added that it would have required servants to pour water into the toilet bowl every time it was used. Because the top is missing, researchers don’t know for sure whether users sat on the seat or squatted over it.
"It is the first and only flush toilet to be ever unearthed in China. Everybody at the site was surprised, and then we all burst into laughter," Liu shared. This proves that the Chinese royals living here definitely pooped in style for their time and the people who came up with the system in those times were no less than stinky geniuses. No wonder the archeologists were amused and stunned.
Analyzing the surrounding soil may also reveal information about ancient people's diets and eating habits. In the same building where the toilet was found, archaeologists also uncovered four large semi-circular tiles, one at each corner. The larger archaeological dig at the palace adds "great value to the study of the layout of the capitals" of the ancient dynasties, according to the press release from the institute.