Archaeologist develops method to identify portable toilets in ancient Rome

The terracotta pots listed in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports on Tuesday February 15 were discovered in the ruins of a villa near the Italian town of Gerace in Sicily.

The pot is round, the sides are slanted and the edges are 30 centimeters high and 33 centimeters wide.

The authors suggested they could sit on it and use it, but it was probably placed under a wooden or rattan chair with a lid attached to the appropriate hole.

The use of ceramics in daily life by ancient Rome

According to Ceramics: Roman Republican and First Principate, Roman pottery was used for domestic and commercial purposes.

They appear as containers for cooking, food preparation, serving, storing and transporting groceries, as well as lamps and containers for perfume.

(Photo: MARVIN RECINOS/AFP via Getty Images)

In the archaeological sites of the Roman world, pottery is the most common material.

It is found in burials and ceremonial foundation sediments.

Debris was often used to level building floors or fill negative features, such as gutters and countertops, and was reused whole as building material for walls.

According to ScienceDaily, Roger Wilson, a professor in the Department of Classical, Near Eastern and Religious Studies at UBC, said that “conical pots of this type were recognized quite widely in the Roman Empire and in the absence other evidence they have often been referred to as storage jars. The discovery of many public latrines or nearby had led to suggestions that they might have been used as chamber pots, but so far the evidence was lacking,”

Read more: The ancient city of Falerii Novii in Rome has finally been mapped using ground-penetrating radar

Methods of analysis of ancient ceramics found

Archaeologists from the University of Cambridge have analyzed a crusty material formed on the inner surface of a 5th-century ceramic pot at the site of a Roman villa in Sicily.

The Ancient Parasites Lab team identified the whipworm eggs, confirming that the container had once contained human feces.

When they first found the pot, it had been taken apart, so they had to put the parts back together.

The jug is burnt orange and has two wavy lines on the outside as decoration. In the bottom and sides of the jar they found the crust, a calcified deposit that they wanted to help identify the contents of the jar.

They scratched a bit for analysis, according to the New York Times.

After preparing the samples in an acid bath and separating the organic matter from the tartar, they were able to identify the preserved eggs of the intestinal parasite Trichuriasis.

It is excreted through human faeces.

The ceramic analyzed results from the presence of fecal parasites

Whipworm is a human parasite about 2 inches long that inhabits the inner lining of our intestines.

The eggs they lay are mixed with human feces and are therefore placed in potty chairs during use.

Minerals from urine and feces were repeatedly used to deposit in layers on the inner surface of the pot, forming stones.

Parasitology expert Piers Mitchell, who led the research at the lab, said that since ancient bathrooms did not have built-in toilets, it is likely that those who found it used this pot whenever the nature called him.

Obviously, convenience was important to them, according to ScienceDaily.

According to the New York Times, Karl J. Reinhard, a professor of environmental archeology at the University of Nebraska who was not involved in the study, said that “what emerges from the article is that their method could be developed so that we could have a general method for everyone, that is simple and something anyone can do anywhere. This could also be applied to museum specimens. I encourage the authors to continue this work and develop a method that we could all benefit from.

Related article: DNA finally reveals mysterious origin of ancient civilization in Italy

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