Archaeologists in China were surprised when they stumbled upon a 2,400 year old toilet with a “deceptively advanced” water flushing system.
You walk into your bathroom and pause for a moment. You admire the ancient throne you've been using for your daily business. That's right, your trusty porcelain toilet is actually a relic from an age long past, whose discovery recently stunned archaeologists in China. Dating back to anywhere from 2,200 to 2,400 years ago, this flush toilet is the oldest to ever be found, beating out of the race the 16th-century flush toilets in England. But this isn't just any regular toilet - it's a "luxury object" used by the highest-ranking members of society.
It all began when archaeologists were excavating two large palace buildings at the heart of Yueyang City, the Institute of Archaeology at the China Academy of Social Sciences said in a news release via Xinhua News Agency, on Wednesday, February 15. Fan Mingyang, a tools and design expert, told Global Times that when the researchers stumbled upon a toilet during their excavations, they were surprised and amused to find that it had a “deceptively advanced” water flushing system similar to modern toilets.
Eventually, they realized that it was part of an indoor toilet seat and a pipe system leading toward an outdoor sewage pit. The top part was missing, so there's no way to know for sure whether users sat on the seat or squatted over it. In the same building, archaeologists also uncovered four large semi-circular tiles, one at each corner.
The Yueyang City site is located in the Yanliang district of Xi’an City, the capital of Shaanxi province. The district is about 840 miles northwest of Shanghai and was used as a capital city under multiple ancient Chinese dynasties.
So the next time you flush your toilet, take a moment to reflect on the throne you've been using. It may be mundane, but we have to think about how far we've come and how far we still have to go. The discovery of this ancient flush toilet is a reminder of how far our society has come in terms of sanitation and hygiene. From the ancient Chinese toilet that used a rudimentary water flushing system, to the modern-day luxury objects found in the highest-ranking members of society, toilets have come a long way.
An important factor to consider here is that this ancient Chinese flush toilet was found in the Yanliang district of Xi’an City, a former Chinese capital city. This indicates that this invention was used by the ruling class, which means that it was a luxury object. This is in stark contrast to the 16th-century invention of flush toilets in England, where it was used by all social classes.
In addition to the improvements in sanitation and hygiene, the discovery of this ancient toilet also reveals some interesting insights into the lifestyle of the people of the time. For example, the presence of four large semi-circular tiles suggests that these toilets were used as part of a communal bathing system, where multiple individuals could use the same facility simultaneously. This could be indicative of the communal nature of the society or simply a way to save time.
Therefore, it is important to take a moment to appreciate the progress made in terms of sanitation and hygiene, while also recognizing the need for continued improvement. For this reason, the discovery of this ancient Chinese toilet is an important reminder of how far we have come and how far we still have to go.