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Upstairs Plumbing and Evidence of Toilets Discovered in Ancient Pompeii Homes

I love the exploration of the classical past, especially Roman times. This is why the latest discovery of advanced plumbing fascinates me so much. While we know that many homes in Europe and England continued to have outdoor toilets well into the 1950’s, and pioneering Americans had outhouses, it is a marvel to discover that ancient Romans were so much more advanced than us thousands of years ago. Take Pompeii, for instance. A new discovery has now shown that many citizens would have had easy access to toilets in Pompeii – right in the comfort of their own homes.

Even though the vast majority of the second floors of Pompeii homes have long since disappeared thanks to the wrath of Mount Vesuvius, there are still vertical pipes lingering today which point to toilets upstairs. A. Kate Trusler said, “We have 23 toilets that are connected, that are second-story preserved, that are connected to these downpipes.”

Once upon a time in the past, it was said that there were toilets in nearly each house. Trusler wasn’t sure about that and found that as she was meandering around the city saw that some areas had homes with private toilets while other areas seemed to contain only outdoor ones. With this type of set up, sewer line repair would be easier.

After this, she decided that a plumbing survey was in order to map downpipe and latrine areas throughout the city. Region 6, one area of Pompeii, does actually have toilets in the lower ground level of most homes, while other areas of the city have little or none. The most likely reason for this scenario would be that the richer inhabitants of the city would have had toilets while the poorer residents would have had to make do with outdoor ones one imagines.

When looking at the terracotta downpipes which are found in the most ancient parts of the city, 286 pipes were found along the walls going directly to what would have once been the second floors. Fortunately for archaeologists, there are still 23 places where the second story of the building is still intact and where the pipes run to latrines. Also, when these pipes were scraped, fecal matter is found along with minute amounts of intestinal parasites which are both fairly obvious signs of toilets.

Trusler said that the majority of the downpipes would have been put from the first century BC up and into the first century AD. right around the time that there was also pumped-in water.


Paola Garcia lives in Jakarta Indonesia. She is an associate professor in University of Indonesia and also managing Scoopinion at the same time. She is also fond of watching theatrical plays.

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