The Evolution of the Toilet- From Ancient Times to Today

Posted by ilker Duymaz on

Toilets have evolved considerably over the years. What was once a hole in the ground is now a high-tech sanitising entity that resembles modern times. The facilities that we are now able to enjoy really come down to innovators and independent thinkers who have put in years of research to benefit us all. If you look at toilets in this day and age, you will soon see that the bathroom industry is worth billions of dollars, and when choosing a new toilet, you can go as luxurious or as basic as you’d like.

Evolution of toilets

What Spurred on the Modern Toilet Movement?

Toilet designs throughout the ages have undergone a lot of different changes. They have also encountered a lot of hiccups as well. Ancient Hindu text has shown that people were once told where to do their business. It was suggested that you fire an arrow into the air and where it lands, that is where you go. The Vishnu Purana, which is 2,000 years old, mentions that people should defecate around 150 feet away from a river, and at least 15 feet away from homes.

Romans and the Evolution of Sanitisation

roman toilets

It was actually the Romans who paved the way to sanitisation in the ancient world, with widespread diseases such as meningitis and cholera pushing people to try and come up with safer and more hygienic facilities. Roman engineering has always involved some degree of technical supremacy, with the most prominent being the use of drainage systems and latrines. The latrines that the Romans created were arranged in a circular design, with the waste falling into the water that ran constantly underneath. This carried the waste to the nearest sewer and eliminated the need for people having to touch it. Although people shared wiping sponges it was this movement that helped to move sanitisation forward. The

Miracle of Plumbing

Romans were also one of the first civilisations to reuse water, while channelling the wastewater from drinking fountains. Aqueducts were established and introduced as the Acueducto De Los Milagros. This translated to the aqueduct of miracles. People in Britain did not take note of the sanitary habits of this civilisation however. Pagan Britains, believed that water should not be contaminated, and this hampered the progress of the toilet for over 1000 years. The rich and those who lived in castles relied on Garderobes, a wooden seat that led to a chute. Sir John Harrington said that menials had to scrape and carry the waste away from the town in the night. Wool was used to wipe, and dyed with woad and madder. This had medicinal properties and was ideal for soothing those who were experiencing sore buttocks.

The First Flushing Toilet

It was John Harington who established the very first water closet for Queen Elizabeth I. The design had a storage tank and it had two rods. One rod allowed water to flow into the bowl, the other emptied the bowl contents. The design wasn’t accepted due to high cost, and the amount of water that was needed to function the device. Alexander Cumming in 1775, a watchmaker at the time, patented the design of the flushing toilet. It had an S-bend and a sliding valve, but unfortunately, the design led to some excreta flowing back into the bowl. In 1778, a man called Joseph Bramah improved the design by using a hinged valve which utilised gravity, drawing the waste away. The River Thames soon became polluted and this led to a new invention, a full sewage system, developed by Joseph Bazalgette.

Toilets for Commoners

In the years that followed, the toilet and its design underwent a lot of changes. By 1880, toilets were made for commoners, and they were also made out of ceramic as this was the best way to keep leaks and smells at bay. The very first public toilet appeared in London in the year 1851 and you had to pay a penny if you wanted to use it.

Modern Day Toilets

Even countries which are culturally rooted, such as Japan, are transforming the Turkish toilet, or squat toilets. Modern-day toilets in Japan are some of the most advanced in the world. They have heated seats, a sensor which helps with controlled flow, and music. You also have the Sound Princess, which is a sound effect that helps to mask the sound of your bodily functions. It’s somewhat ironic that there are technological masterpieces on the market right now, but at the same time, people in India and China do not have access to even basic sanitation. 40% of the world’s population practice open defecation, which is an ongoing issue for some.

Elsewhere in the world, new toilet designs are hitting the market all the time. You have the bidet for example. The bidet toilet combo allows you to sit, with your legs astride, facing the tap. When the temperature of the water is to your liking, you can then increase the pressure. Some models come with seats, so you can sit on your combined bidet toilet in the same way you would a normal toilet. You also have the option of using a wall-mounted grab so you can get up and down much more easily. Bidet toilets really are now more technically advanced when compared to ten or even twenty years ago. They are also much more hygienic. You have the option of wall hung bidet toilets or back to wall bidet toilets, which just goes to show how far things have come over the years.

So, it doesn’t matter whether you want to invest in Turkish toilets or whether you want to invest in wall-hung bidets because there is truly something out there for everyone. If you want to get the best result out of your bathroom then it helps to consult a professional. Want to find out more about the huge range of toilets that we have available? Then don’t be afraid to call us on 0203 4881722. We would be more than happy to help.

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