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Communal Roman Loos

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Omar al Hashim View Drop Down
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    Posted: 16 Aug 2010 at 06:17
How do we know about the communal roman toliets?
 
Is it just from archeology or are there contemporary accounts too? Is it possible that biodegrable curtins (cloth) was put up for some privacy?
 
How did this vary in different parts of the Roman Empire? Did the Celts and the Syrians both like a yarn on the dunny? What time periods were they used over? Was it a temporary fashion?


Edited by Omar al Hashim - 16 Aug 2010 at 06:18
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calvo View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote calvo Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Aug 2010 at 09:39
Originally posted by Omar al Hashim Omar al Hashim wrote:

How do we know about the communal roman toliets?
 
Is it just from archeology or are there contemporary accounts too? Is it possible that biodegrable curtins (cloth) was put up for some privacy?
 
How did this vary in different parts of the Roman Empire? Did the Celts and the Syrians both like a yarn on the dunny? What time periods were they used over? Was it a temporary fashion?


For all that I know of, Roman communal toilets were universal across all provinces of the empire, and no, there were no curtains or partitions. People sat on a row of seats doing their "businesses" while chatting and laughing. Unlike the customs today, going to the toilet was a social event and public toilets were where people caught up with the latest gossip
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Reginmund Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Aug 2010 at 09:53
Agree with calvo. I visited one of the most well-preserved communal toilets in the ancient world in the ruins of Ephesus; it was built in a horse-shoe formation with the seats placed closely together with no separating walls in between. Clearly the scene was set for social interaction and not a private affair, the toilets being one of several arenas where men could get together to discuss politics and compare farts.
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And cast the souls of many stalwart heroes
To Hades, and their bodies to the dogs
And birds of prey
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Aug 2010 at 11:43
There's a good example discovered in Trier in the 'eighties when they were digging the foundations for a new underground car park. Under the rows of seats are channels for running water for cleaning purposes: I think I remember from the guide that slaves were also handy with kind of mops on sticks.  
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Zagros Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Aug 2010 at 16:39
I've seen some ruins (I think it was) at a fort protecting Hadrian's Wall.  The holes were so close together I hardly think there was enough room for separators.
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Omar al Hashim View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Omar al Hashim Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 Aug 2010 at 02:13
Originally posted by gcle gcle wrote:

I think I remember from the guide that slaves were also handy with kind of mops on sticks.  
So was there a classest element in it? Where did the slaves go?
 
Was there an ethnic divde on who used them? When did the Eastern Empire stop using them?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 Aug 2010 at 04:07
Even the toilets in the Roman insulae (the "apartment buildings" of their day) had communal toilets and archaeology has proven time-and-time again that the Romans (like most sensible people) were not squeamish when it came to natural bodily functions.
 
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This is a picture of the "toilets" at the Roman theatre in Merida, Spain. We will not go into details on those little sticks with a sponge at their end.
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