By Tim Lambert

Early Toilets

C 2,300 BC At Skara Brae in Scotland stone huts have drains with cubicles over them. They may have been toilets.

C 2,000 BC In Northwest India and Pakistan towns are built with networks of sewers. Toilets are flushed with water.

C 1,800 BC On Crete some toilets are flushed with water

C 1,200 BC In Egypt rich people use a container with sand, which is emptied by slaves.

C 100 AD In Rome sewers collect rainwater and sewage. There are public lavatories. The Romans have a goddess of sewers called Cloacina.

476 The western part of the Roman Empire falls and in western Europe sophisticated plumbing vanishes for centuries

12th Century At Portchester Castle monks built stone chutes leading to the sea. When the tide went in and out it flushed away the sewage.

1200 In castles the toilet is a vertical shaft cut into the thickness of the walls with a stone seat on top.

1500 Ordinary people often use the leaves of a plant called woolly mullein as toilet paper

1547 People are forbidden to go in the courtyards of royal palaces

1596 Sir John Harrington invents a flushing toilet but the idea fails to catch on. People continue to use cess pits, which are cleaned by men called gong farmers.

Modern Toilets

1775 Alexander Cumming patents a flushing lavatory

1778 Joseph Bramah makes a better design

1850 Earth closets are popular. When you pull a lever granulated clay from a box covers the contents of the pan.

1852 The first modern public lavatory opens

1857 Toilet paper goes on sale in the USA. It is sold in sheets.

1883 The vacant/engaged bolt is invented

1884 The first pedestal toilet pan is made

1890 Toilet paper on rolls goes on sale in the USA

1892 John Nevil Maskelyne invents the coin operated lock for toilets

1900 For the first time some houses for skilled workers are built with inside lavatories

1928 Toilet paper on rolls goes on sale in Europe

1942 Soft toilet paper goes on sale

2001 The World Toilet Organisation is formed

A history of toilets

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A timeline of medicine