Home / News / World /  2,400-year-old flush toilet found: Guess what archaeologists are checking next

Archaeologists have made an exciting discovery; they have found the bottom half of a manual flush toilet that is 2,400 years old. It was found in the Yueyang archaeological site in Shaanxi province of China. This site was once the capital city under multiple ancient Chinese dynasties, and this find could reveal a lot about the eating habits of the people who lived there.

The archaeologists are now analysing soil samples collected from the toilet in the hopes of discovering what people ate during that time. They believe that the toilet was reserved for high-ranking officials during the Warring States Period (475-221 BC) and the later Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 220). It is described as a luxury object that was located inside the palace, with a pipe leading to an outdoor pit.

The discovery of the ancient flush toilet is significant in modern-day China, where access to clean, flush toilets remains an issue in some areas. Chinese leader Xi Jinping has promised to revolutionise the country's restrooms as part of efforts to improve rural hygiene. In a 2018 article in the state-owned People's Daily, he emphasised the importance of this work in building civilised cities and countryside.

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The excavation crew included Liu Rui, a researcher at the Institute of Archeology at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Liu Rui told state media that servants probably filled the toilet bowl with water each time it was used.

"The flush toilet is concrete proof of the importance the ancient Chinese attached to sanitation," Liu said while reminding of the lack of early records of indoor latrines.

This find has sparked widespread interest in China, as it offers a rare insight into the privileged and comparatively-advanced world of the country's ancient ruling elite. The ruins from Yueyang were discovered in the 1980s and are part of a broader effort to understand ancient Chinese dynasties, including how people lived and how their cities were constructed.

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Prior to this discovery, the invention of the first flush toilet was widely credited to English courtier John Harington, who supposedly installed one for Queen Elizabeth in the 16th century. However, the 2,400-year-old toilet at the Yueyang archaeological site provides evidence of an ancient civilization that also recognized the importance of sanitation.

This discovery of the ancient flush toilet at the Yueyang archaeological site in China is a fascinating glimpse into ancient Chinese life and shows how important sanitation was even thousands of years ago.

Sounak Mukhopadhyay
Sounak Mukhopadhyay, who also goes by the name Sounak Mukherjee, has been producing digital news since 2012. He's worked for the International Business Times, The Inquisitr, and Moneycontrol in the past. He's also contributed to Free Press Journal and TheRichest with feature articles. He covers news for a wide range of subjects including business, finance, economy, politics and social media. Before working with digital news publications, he worked as a freelance content writer.
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