Going Number 2 In Ancient Rome

Before the First and Second centuries in Rome, relieving oneself in the city were all the roads led required the good old chamberpot. While this worked fine for some (and came back in vogue after the fall of Rome all over Europe) once you were done you had to get rid of your waste somehow, and most Romans did this by flinging the contents of their pots right out the window (and potentially onto whoever was walking by). Getting tired of the mess, the Julio-Claudian Emperors decided to do something about this by creating the first public toilets. As you can see (click for a bigger picture) public was the key word here, with some locations having facilities for over 50 people. And as you can guess, there was no toilet paper. Instead you get a sponge wrapped around a stick (hence, “getting the short end of the stick”). And not one for each visitor, ether. Facilities for the lower classes contained one or two sticks with a bucket of brine to “wash” with. Nicer accommodations like the one above would have likely contained more sponges to go around (but sharing was still common), and if you look closely you can see a trough were warm water from the bath houses was piped through so as to eliminate the bucket. What you see above was the cutting edge of shit technology for at least another thousand years and longer in some areas.

As a side note, people could also make money selling urine. Urine traders are described as walking up and down poorer areas of Rome barking away for people to “Sell your urine right here!”

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