Ancient Pompeians Could Go Upstairs to Pee
2013 01 15

By Stephanie Pappas | Discovery.com

The residents of the ancient city of Pompeii weren’t limited to street-level plumbing, a new study finds. In fact, many in the city may have headed upstairs when nature called.

Most second floors in the Roman city are gone, claimed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius that destroyed Pompeii in A.D. 79. But vertical pipes leading to lost second stories strongly suggest that there were once toilets up there, according to a new analysis by A. Kate Trusler, a doctoral candidate in anthropology at the University of Missouri.


A few second-story toilets survived the lava that covered Pompeii, such as this one


"We have 23 toilets that are connected, that are second-story preserved, that are connected to these downpipes," Trusler told LiveScience on Friday (Jan. 4) at the annual meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America in Seattle, where she presented her research.

Traces of toilets

Trusler became interested in Pompeii’s latrines six years ago while doing fieldwork in the city. Previous researchers and works on Pompeii often stated that there was a toilet in almost every house. But Trusler found that statement confusing. Walking around the city, she said, it was clear that some spots were chock full of homes with private latrines, while other areas seemed to be toilet deserts.

"And," Trusler added, "there are all of these downpipes that are part of that picture that no one is really considering."

So Trusler decided to conduct a plumbing survey of sorts, mapping latrine and downpipe locations around the city. One residential district, known to archaeologists as Region 6, does indeed have toilets on the ground story of almost every home, she said. But other blocks have few toilets. In total, 43 percent of homes in the city had latrines on the ground floor, Trusler found.

Downpipes provide the other half of that picture. These vertical, usually terracotta pipes are concentrated in the oldest part of the city, where there were many workshops and small businesses crammed into close quarters. A total of 286 pipes run down the walls of these buildings, leading to the mostly lost second floors. In 23 cases, however, the second story remains, and the same types of pipes lead to latrines.

In addition, Trusler said, unpublished research on scrapings from the insides of the pipes revealed fecal material and traces of intestinal parasites, good signs of a toilet.

The plumbing of Pompeii

The upstairs plumbing offers a window into daily Pompeii life, Trusler said.

"The sanitation features can tell us a lot about what people are doing on upper floors and above these little shops," she said. "What they suggest is that people are living there."

Most of the downpipes were likely installed in the first century B.C. into the first century A.D., Trusler said, the same time that the city developed its pumped-water system. Residents of apartments above shops would have been able to get water from public fountains installed in the streets.

"You really have a picture of urban development going on in Pompeii," Trusler said.



Article from: news.discovery.com


A pipe leading in from the side likely provided flush water for this upstairs toilet in Pompeii.







Related Articles
A Stroll Around Pompeii via Google Street View
Maya plumbing, first pressurized water feature found in New World
Roman Baths and Hygiene in Ancient Rome
A History Of Personal Hygiene
What the Romans Used for Toilet Paper


Latest News from our Front Page

Israel’s Military Censors Demand ’Prior Review’ of NYT’s Gaza Reporting
2014 08 01
Following its reporting of the latest events in the Gaza Strip on Friday, including available details about an IDF soldier captured by Hamas soldiers early in the day, the New York Times was contacted by Israel’s military censor and told that future reporting related to the capture would need to be run through its office before publication. The Times updated their ...
Wrong time, altered images: Moscow slams Kiev’s MH17 satellite data
2014 08 01
Satellite images Kiev published as ‘proof’ it didn’t deploy anti-aircraft batteries around the MH17 crash site carry altered time-stamps and are from days after the MH17 tragedy, the Russian Defense Ministry has revealed. The images, which Kiev claims were taken by its satellites at the same time as those taken by Russian satellites, are neither Ukrainian nor authentic, according to Moscow’s ...
World’s First Man-Made Leaves Breathe Oxygen
2014 08 01
A graduate student in innovation design engineering at the UK’s Royal College of Art has created a synthetic leaf that mimics the functions of its real counterpart. "I have the first photosynthetic material that is working and breathing as a leaf does," said Julian Melchiorri. The synthetic leaf uses photosynthesis to produce oxygen, by absorbing light, water and carbon dioxide. The artificial ...
The £11 billion Government plan to put ’Smart meters’ in every British home
2014 08 01
The UK government plans to put smart meters into British homes, and the costs of this program will naturally be passed on to reluctant customers. Critics of the plan suggest that this would make homes and the national grid vulnerable to terrorists, but as it’s been confirmed that government agents are most often involved in terror plots, it’s not the ...
Race to be scrapped from Swedish legislation
2014 08 01
The Swedish government announced that it plans to remove all mentions of race from Swedish legislation, saying that race is a social construct which should not be encouraged in law. "We know that different human races actually do not exist," Swedish Integration Minister Erik Ullenhag told Sveriges Television (SVT). "We also know that the fundamental grounds of racism are ...
More News »