Human Sanitation and Plumbing History

Now, this one's a controversial topic . But bronze pipes have been discovered in Egypt, going back to the Pyramids and Noah.

Extract Wikipedia
Major human settlements could initially develop only where fresh surface water was plentiful, such as near rivers or natural springs. Throughout history, people have devised systems to make getting water into their communities and households and disposing of (and later also treating) wastewater more convenient.

The historical focus of sewage treatment was on the conveyance of raw sewage to a natural body of water, e.g. a river or ocean, where it would be diluted and dissipated. Early human habitations were often built next to water sources. Rivers would often serve as a crude form of natural sewage disposal.

Over the millennia, technology has dramatically increased the distances across which water can be relocated. Furthermore, treatment processes to purify drinking water and to treat wastewater have been improved.

Squat toilets are used all over the world, but are particularly common in some Asian and African nations, as well as in some Muslim countries. In many of those countries, anal cleansing with water is also the cultural norm and easier to perform than with toilets used in a sitting position. They are also occasionally found in some European and South American countries.

North America
How did Native Americans handle sanitation/bodily waste in the 19th century and before? Alone in the woods, leave no trace is one thing, but when congregated in larger numbers, were there latrines or what?

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Native American tribes had various methods for handling sanitation and bodily waste, depending on their location, culture, and available resources. Some tribes used communal latrines, while others practiced individual waste disposal. For example, some tribes dug holes for waste disposal and covered them with dirt, while others used natural materials such as leaves or moss to clean themselves after using the bathroom. Additionally, some tribes used water sources for bathing and cleaning, while others used sweat lodges for cleansing. Overall, Native American tribes had a deep respect for the land and the environment, and they took great care to minimize their impact on the natural world.

Did Australian Aborigines have toilets before the Europeans arrived?

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The concept of toilets as we know them today is a relatively recent invention in human history. It is not clear if Australian Aborigines had toilets before the Europeans arrived, but it is known that they had a deep understanding and respect for the land and its resources. They used various methods to manage waste, such as burying it or using it to fertilize plants. Additionally, some Indigenous Australian cultures had specific areas designated for waste disposal, but these were not necessarily similar to modern toilets.

Ian Gorman (4 up arrows)
Former Foreign Legion (2001–2006)
Australian aboriginals didn't poop before the British arrived and took over. They all lived in complete harmony with each other and nature. Each clan had a controlled fire crew that miraculously did controlled burns without the use of water, shovels etc.

Paul Clifford (10 up arrows)
Former System Specialist / Application Architext / Designer (1981–2004)
Pointedly, Europeans didn’t have toilets in 1788. They were still using bed pans or buckets and throwing effluent into the streets, causing massive pollution of waterways, as well as causing disease and plagues in European cities!

The Australian aboriginal, like most primitive nomadic hunter-gatherers that didn’t establish permanent settlements, build substantial structures for shelter, males used a bush or rock for a piss, and females, and those who needed to do a poop, just squatted on the ground. Because they didn’t live in concentrated groups there were no hygiene issues, as the flies and other insects would quickly clean up the mess.

Matter of fact. The toilet within a private house is a relatively modern innovation. Well into the middle of the 20th century there were still homes with no sewage in Europe and employed outside dunnies in urban centres pissing & pooping into a can, that was collected, emptied and disinfected with phenol by the “night soil man” in the early hours of a morning.

Out bush and in rural regions, you dug a hole and covered the deposits to keep down the flies.


Roman Empire and Medieval Europe
The Roman Empire had indoor plumbing, meaning a system of aqueducts (watercourses) and lead pipes that terminated in homes and at public wells and fountains for people to use.

Contrary to popular belief bathing and sanitation were not lost in Europe with the collapse of the Roman Empire. Public bathhouses were common in medieval Christendom larger towns and cities such as Constantinople, Paris, Regensburg, Rome and Naples.


Plumbing engineering in Indian subcontinent even 5000 years ago was quite sophisticated and accorded high priority. The Indus Valley Civilization sites in the Indian subcontinent evidence of public water supply and sanitation systems built with ingenious and advanced engineering.

The recently discovered Rakhigarh excavations revealed world's first urban sanitation systems where individual homes or groups of homes were supplied water from a well. From a room set aside for bathing, waste water flowed to covered drains over major streets.

Plumbing systems were integral to city life
A typical example is in Lothal in Gujarat, where all houses had own private toilets connected to a covered sewer network built of brickwork using gypsum based mortar. The urban areas of this civilization included public and private baths. Underground sewer drains connected to wider public drains were built with precisely laid bricks and a sophisticated water management system was in place. Some of these sophisticated systems included drainage channels, rainwater harvesting and huge reservoirs/baths, covered sewers etc.
Such emphasis on sanitation continued across centuries through the eras of the Mauryas, Guptas or the Vijayanagara empire. Sanitation has always been integral to India's cultural foundation.

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