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The History of the Toilet

Arlington PlumberHistorians and archaeologists generally agree that one of the first signs of civilization is when a culture developed fermented beverages.

Alcohol as a recreational device requires planting, being in a set location such as a village, and leisure time that hunter-gatherers lack. Perhaps the next most significant sign of advanced civilization is indoor plumbing.

In the Near East

Excavations in the Near East have uncovered indoor latrine systems in dwellings with running water, stone seats cut into the structure, and a sophisticated drainage system that links the dwellings.

Palaces and residences of upper-class families had elaborate rooms decorated with art relating to the culture and period.
Perhaps the clearest evidence of the basic toilet is in Pompeii, the city buried in preservative ash and mud by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. Public restrooms with rows on seats and running water supplied by monumental aqueduct systems that are still visible today were a feature of this luxurious Roman city.

The villas of the rich had more sophisticated piping and connected to baths and latrines that provided a type of luxury that all but disappeared when the Roman Empire fell into the Dark Ages.


Europe suffered a decline in quality of life that lasted for ages. Indoor plumbing was neglected in many cases even for the rich landowners. Castles were built for defense, not luxury and leisure.

The chamber pot provided comfort in stone structures that were difficult to heat. Bathing became foreign as culture stagnated.
Into the 18th and early 19th centuries, the most advanced toilet was the outhouse or privy. These were merely a shelter built to surround a ditch into which earth was usually shoveled for sort of sanitation.

Indoor Plumbing

Arlington Toilet-HistoryBy the time indoor plumbing, city-wide water distribution systems and a more health conscious governmental concept arrived flush toilets became a fact of life.
Progressively, water quality, water treatment plants, and a generally accepted set of water quality standards led to increased levels of public health and safety.

Future Toilets

Today’s toilet is more sophisticated than ever before. Bathrooms have developed into spa-like retreats. But all in all the serious matter of health, safety, and disease control have been the prime reason for the development of our most accepted convenience. One of civilization’s most obvious signs has been the toilet and we can prove it.

If you live in the Arlington area, and are having toilet troubles, Call The Plumbing Dr. at (703) 525-9280 and find out how you can get your toilet back!