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Communal Roman Loos

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Category: REGIONAL HISTORY
Forum Name: Imperial WANA 550 BC - 622 AD
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Topic: Communal Roman Loos
Posted By: Omar al Hashim
Subject: Communal Roman Loos
Date Posted: 16 Aug 2010 at 16:17
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?



Replies:
Posted By: calvo
Date Posted: 16 Aug 2010 at 19:39
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


Posted By: Reginmund
Date Posted: 16 Aug 2010 at 19:53
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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Sing, goddess, of Achilles' ruinous anger
Which brought ten thousand pains to the Achaeans,
And cast the souls of many stalwart heroes
To Hades, and their bodies to the dogs
And birds of prey


Posted By: gcle2003
Date Posted: 16 Aug 2010 at 21:43
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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Citizen of Ankh-Morpork.

Never believe anything until it has been officially denied - Sir Humphrey Appleby, 1984.



Posted By: Zagros
Date Posted: 17 Aug 2010 at 02:39
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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"There was glory in pissing, Corabb decided as he watched the stream curve out and make that familiar but unique sound as it hit the ground." So true.


Posted By: Omar al Hashim
Date Posted: 17 Aug 2010 at 12:13
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?


Posted By: drgonzaga
Date Posted: 17 Aug 2010 at 14:07
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.
 
Latrine picture 
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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Honi soit qui mal y pense



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