What you may not realize about the humble toilet is that it is a hallmark of civilization.
Prior to toilets, primitive humans would squat where it was most convenient for them; as time went on, they started finding more private areas, and containing their waste.
While early toilets were a sign of wealth and influence, the need for society to adopt a hygienic waste disposal system came to a head during the industrial revolution. The choice was either that or lose human lives to diseases such as cholera that flourish in places with poor sewage.
As we take a look back through history to bring you the stories of the first toilets, consider whether you may need a throne upgrade, aka a new toilet replacement.
The Cretan Toilet
Bronze-age Minoan society was extremely advanced for its time, and even boasted a waste sewage system that ran through the citadel.
Although being advanced for its time, it would be considered low-tech now; archaeological evidence shows that washrooms were simple holes suspended over a trench of running water, and a lever would allow the water to flow through, carrying away the refuse.
This crude but effective method carried through the ancient Greek and Roman era, which boasted public washrooms throughout their cities, as well as in the public bathhouses.
Sir John Harrington’s Toilet
Sir John Harrington – famously the godson of Queen Elizabeth I of England – designed what is generally agreed upon as the first modern toilet.
He designed one for his home in 1596, and after showing it off to his godmother during a visit, she commissioned one and had it installed in Richmond Palace for her.
The toilet was a waterproofed bowl, and had a rather large cistern installed above it for flushing.
Some say that the slang word for toilet – the John – comes from Sir John himself, but this remains to be proved.
Alexander Cumming’s Toilet
Alexander Cumming took another crack at the toilet flushing mechanism, and was granted the world’s first patent for the toilet, in 1775 England.
If you’ve ever used a port-a-potty, you’ll appreciate Mr. Cumming’s most cunning innovation – he patented the S-shaped pipe, which prevents smells and gas from the sewers below from entering your bathroom through the toilet.
Thomas Crapper’s Toilet
A man after our own heart, Thomas Crapper was a plumber whose company specialized in installing plumbing fixtures in late nineteenth-century London (you know, the OTHER London), including bathtubs, sinks, and his own version of the flush toilet.
His addition to toilet advancements was the ballcock, which remains the preferred tank-filling mechanism used in toilets to this day.
In this case, we know that his name became synonymous with his product, largely due to the influx of servicemen who experienced them for the first time when serving in Europe during WWI.
The Modern Toilet
The modern toilet is paramount to a healthy society, even though the WHO estimates that 40% of the world still does not have good sanitation facilities.
You may have seen thrones in the news that are gold-covered, have remote-controlled features, play music, are works of art in their own right, and now we even have ‘smart toilets’ that can follow commands and prepare your pit stop for you in advance via your mobile phone.
In the meantime, in the less developed parts of Africa and Asia, governments are attempting to curb the spread of disease by championing simple, cheap and effective ‘squat toilets’, returning to the flush toilet’s most uncomplicated of beginnings.
Call Triton Plumbing & Service
The next time you sit on your home’s throne, you can appreciate a little better all the knowledge, experiments and social developments necessary to bring you the technology you use to whisk away your bodily functions.
And if you happen to notice – while you’re there – that it’s got a little wobble, has some draining problems, or just isn’t as updated as your other fixtures, then perhaps it’s time to modernize further.
Give us a call at Triton Plumbing & Service to get a quick quote on toilet installation; we’ll make sure your new fixture is installed perfectly, sanitarily, and will serve you well for many years to come.