Showing posts with label Garderobe. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Garderobe. Show all posts

Monday, June 6, 2016

The History of Ancient Toilets -II

ancient toilets
Credit: Fr Lawrence Lew, OP, CC BY-NC-ND

Gardrobe – Small Chamber with Platform over Hole in the Floor

Toilets seemed to be one of the most important features of medieval castle and medieval toilets was an experience which several today would fight with. The public medieval privy had been the cesspit which was only a hole in the ground that was at times lined with stone or wooden planks. It was not better in castles and though the wealthy and the powerful could afford a much sophisticated toilet, the gardrobe, it was a far cry from the simple modern toilet.

The gardrobe was a small chamber with platform over a hole in the floor. Koloshi-Ostrow at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts and Jansen an independent archaeologist based in the Netherlands are among the rising number of archaeologists, infectious disease specialist together with other experts who have been making attempts on the history of the lost loos, from ancient Mesopotamia to the Middle Ages with a specific focus on the Roman world.

Their studies have shown a new way of learning about diets, habits and disease of the past populations, particularly those of the lower classes that had received scarce attention from archaeologists. It has been concluded by the researchers, that Roman residents went to their toilets with some fear, due to superstition and also because of very real dangers from rats and other pests lurking in the sewers.

Ancient Rome – Sophisticated Plumbing System

Though ancient Rome is well-known for its sophisticated plumbing system, latest research of old faeces indicates that its sanitation technologies were not good for the health of the residents. An archaeologist at Hunter College in New York, Hendrik Dey, had stated that `toilets have a lot to tell about, far more than how and where people went to the bathroom. Koloski-Ostrow has said that `one has to have a strong sense of self and of humour to work on this topic since one who works on it is going to get ribbed by friends and enemies’.

She had begun the topic almost a quarter of a century ago when Nicholas Horsfall, a classicist had called her over in the library, at the American Academy in Rome. Invention of some of the first modest toilets is attributed to Mesopotamia in the late fourth millennium BC. The non-flushing matters were pits around 4.5 metres deep that were lined with a stack of hollow ceramic cylinders about 1 metre in diameter.

Romans Extraordinary in Adoption of Toilets

Individuals would have to sit or squat or the toilet and the excrement may have stayed in the cylinders with liquids leaking outwards through damage in the rings. The Romans were extraordinary in their adoption of toilets and towards the first century BC, public toilets had become a main feature of Roman infrastructure like bathhouses, according to Kolosi-Ostrow.

 All city dwellers had access to private toilets in their residence. She adds that the however, very little is known about how these toilets functioned and what people thought of them. One reason could be that during the Roman times, few of them wrote about toilets and when they did so; they were frequently ironic thus making it hard to understand their meaning But Koloski-Ostrow as well as Jansen think that it is worthwhile taking up the topic seriously.

 They together with some two dozen other archaeologists analysed over 60 toilets all over the city most of which had not been described earlier, for their forthcoming book on toilets in the Roam capital.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

The History of Ancient Toilets

Credit:Photo by Becky Bowen

Garderobe –Medieval Toilets

Garderobe - French wardrobe is described as a place where the clothes as well as other items seem to be stored. It is also considered a medieval toilet. A garderobe, in European public places means a cloakroom wardrobe, armoire or alcove that is utilised temporarily to store the coats and the other properties of visitors The word garderobe in Danish, Dutch, Norwegian, German, Russian and Spanish means a `cloakroom while in Latvian it means `checkroom’.

At Donegal Castle, anexplanation shows that during the time the castle garderobe had been in use, it was said that ammonia would protect the visitors’ coats and clock especially from fleas. In a medieval castle or other building, the garderobe was said to be just a hole, discharging to the outside into a cesspit of the trench based on the building structure.

 These toilets often were located within a small chamber lead by association to use of the word garderobe to define the rooms. Several of them can still be viewed in Norman and the medieval castles and fortifications, for instance at Burresheim Castle in Germany where there are three garderobes that are visible till date. With the introduction of indoor plumbing they have become out-dated.


Ancient Communal Toilet on Palatine Hill

Archaeologist have found clues to what life was earlier in the Roman world and in other civilization by searching the remains of early loos and sewers.A high ceilinged room beneath one of Rome’s most magnificent palaces, some 2,000 years back, was a smelly, busy space. Within the damp chamber, a bench perforated by about 50 holes that were the size of dinner plates ran along the walls which could have held some of the bottoms of the lowest members of Roman society.

Presently the room is closed to the public though the archaeologists Ann Koloshi-Ostrow and Gemma Jansen had a rare opportunity in 2014, of studying the ancient communal toilet on the Palatine Hill. They measured the heights of the stone based benches, which was comfortable 43 centimetres, the distances between the holes – an intimate 56 cm and the drop down in the sewer below, of a substantial 380 cm at its deepest. They wondered regarding the mysterious source of the water which could have flushed the sewer or perhaps some nearby baths.

Urinal ; Image

Drawings on Outer Entryway

Drawings on the outer entryway indicated long queues wherein people had some time to carve or write their messages before they could take their turn on the bench. The underground area with the combination of plain red and white colour scheme on the walls showed a lower class of users probably slaves.

When Giacomo Boni, the Italian excavator had excavated this room in 1913, the toilets were aprohibited topic and in his report he had misguided the remains of the leaky benches for something extraordinary, some portion of an elaborate mechanism which he had guessed would have pumped water providing power for the palace above. Jansen had commented that Boni’s narrow-minded feelings did not permit him to recognize what was before him and he could not imagine it to be a toilet.