It is a common perception that toilets are a modern invention, but this is not true. It may surprise you to learn that toilets have existed as far back as thousands of years ago, in so-called pagan and primitive cultures.
The earliest-recorded archaeological remains of systemized sewers and drainage were found between 2600BC and 1600BC at the Indus Valley in Asia and the Minoan civilization on the island of Crete.
The Romans were more ‘social’. They deliberately frequented the open public loos, as these were popular places to bag invitations to banquets. Romans even had a goddess of sewers called Claocina.
Ancient Egypt preferred comfort and most people had internal toilets with a seat made of limestone and an underneath sewage ‘pot’ of sand, which was emptied by their servants. The poor warmed their nether cheeks with wooden seats though!
Monks at Portchester Castle were smart. They built chutes called ‘Garderobes’ that emptied out at sea and the tides washed off the remains. In time, an enemy, clearly undeterred by the muck, used the chute for a sneak attack and later these were closed with iron bars.
Sir John Harrington first engineered a valve for releasing water in a toilet way back in 1596, but the concept became popularly used only after Joseph Bramah reinvented it in 1778.
Alexander Cumming first patented the flushing toilet in 1775 and the first public lavatory opened in London in 1852.
Pans were made from porcelain in the 19th century and had seats of wood decorated with paintings or embossing. Cisterns were pulled by a chain.