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History of Hygiene
Graphs and Statistics


A brief history of…TOILETS

2500 BC" The first sit-down toilets? Remains of sit-down toilets linked with drains have been found in Lothal, India.

Ancient Rome: Urinal-style toilets were common features at public baths, making use of aqueduct technology to carry waste into sewers which emptied into the River Tiber.

206 BC-AD 24: The first flush toilet? China claims to be the home of the first flush toilet. An ancient Western Han Dynasty toilet was discovered in a tomb in the Henan province. This toilet had running water, a stone seat and an armrest.

Question   How would you feel about…

  • Storing your clothes in the toilet? Castles in Medieval England had “garderobes”, which were often built into the castle wall so that waste fell through a chute overhanging the ground, the moat, or a dedicated waste pit. The name “garderobe” comes from the fact that these rooms were also used to store clothes, because the smell kept moths away!
  • Working as a human toilet brush? In the time of King Henry VIII, toilets from Hampton Court palace consisted of brick drains which emptied waste into the River Thames. Small boys were employed to crawl along the drains to clean them out.
  • Some other ancient toileting practices:

-Going wherever you wanted! The street, the field, the river…
-Defecation through a hole in the floor – into running water or onto the ground below
-Use of chamber pots, which were often concealed in pieces of furniture such as the sideboard then emptied outside in the street
-Use of the 'earth closet' (rather than the water closet)
-Accumulation of human waste in cesspools

Light Bulb   Toilet developments

1596: The first modern toilet? The water closet was invented by Sir John Harington (England), who installed one for himself and another in the Royal Palace for his Godmother, Queen Elizabeth I.

1770s: A flurry of innovations saw development of the “S-trap”, plunger, and hinged valve, all of which were improvements but failed to completely seal off smelly sewer gases from below. 1775: The first patent for a flush toilet was awarded to Alexander Cummings (Scotland). 1800s: Toilets and sewer systems became increasingly common in England and the USA. 1910: Toilet designs changed to resemble the modern toilet with its low cistern and bowl.

2010: Robotic toilet! This toilet is designed to help bed-ridden patients. It comes on call, uses a bidet to maintain personal hygiene, maintains privacy, then cleans itself!




useful stuff...

How Australian pandemics have changed! The 1919 Spanish Flu pandemic caused over 10,000 deaths in Australia,14 whereas the 2009-10 H1N1 pandemic ("Swine Flu") caused 191 deaths.15 English knights were required to bathe at least once in their lives - during the ritual of their knighthood ceremony. Because of this tradition, during the reign of King Henry IV there originated an order called "Knights of the Bath".16 The term "shampoo" came from Indian language and originally meant "massage".17 English society ladies held vacuuming parties after invention of the horse-drawn electric vacuum in 1901.18
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