A reconstruction of the oldest toilet on Earth, dating back to 2,400 years ago. Image Credit: China Daily.

Archaeologists Find the Oldest Toilet on Earth

The Flush toilet it is believed to have been invented by Sir John Harrington, who, in 1592, came up with a "water closet." However, archaeologists in China have discovered a toilet that dates back 2,400.


Have you ever wondered who discovered the first flush toilet? You probably have not, and neither have I. However, the man credited with discovering the instrument we all use is Sir John Harrington. In 1592, he came up with a “water closet” that had a raised cistern with a downpipe through which waste ran down, therefore flushing waste. However, it would seem that this invention was made in China much sooner. Archeologists excavating the Yueyang archaeological site in Xi’an, Shaanxi province, have discovered fragments of an artifact they have managed to piece together. To their surprise, the object turned out to be a manual flush toilet, dating back to 2,400 years ago. Archaeologists were trying to understand people’s dietary habits millennia ago when they came across broken toilet parts. It took them several months to piece the object back together before they realized what they had discovered.

The oldest toilet on Earth

The discovery of the flush toilet is significant since it predates the invention of the same mechanism credited to Sir Harrington. The object was found among the ruins of an ancient palace in the city of Yueyang. What is particularly interesting, according to archaeologists, is that the toilet is thought to have been used by Qin Xiaogong or his father Xian’going of the Qin Kingdom, according to China Daily. These two rulers lived tuning the so-called Warring States Period. It is also believed that the toilet might have been used by the first emperor of the Hn Dynasty, Liu Bang. But no matter who used the device for sanitary purposes, the age of the item makes the find so interesting.


Toilets as a luxury?

As revealed by experts, the flush toilet was considered a luxury object at the time and was likely only used by high-ranking officials and members of the time. Liu Riu, a scientist at the Institute of Archaeology at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, explained that this is the first such toilet discovered in China. “Everybody at the site was surprised, and then we all burst into laughter,” Riu said. Riu further explained that the flush toilet proves the importance of sanitation in ancient Chinese culture.

Restoring the toilet is just one part of the project. Excerpts will now analyze the soil in hopes of discovering traces of human faces that would allow them to understand better what people of the time ate.


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Written by Ivan Petricevic

I've been writing passionately about ancient civilizations, history, alien life, and various other subjects for more than eight years. You may have seen me appear on Discovery Channel's What On Earth series, History Channel's Ancient Aliens, and Gaia's Ancient Civilizations among others.

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