I have been holding this post on ancient toilets for quite a while :-), so I thought I go ahead and post it! (For what it’s worth, as the son of a plumber and a third year apprentice [I never finished], I come by my interest in ancient toilets honestly.)
This is the third in a series of semi-serious posts on “Going Potty in the Ancient World.” My other posts include:
All posts in this series may be viewed here.
The pictures of the ancient potty below were sent to my by Bill Fritsche. Bill was volunteering at the Sussita/Hippos Excavations last summer and uncovered what sure looks like an ancient toilet. See for yourself and let me know what you think (the individual in the second picture is Bill):
The church is tentatively thought to be a 6th century CE Byzantine structure and we know that the city was destroyed by earthquake in 748 or 749 CE; that would mean the potty would probably date to around the same period.
The dig is sponsored by the Zinman Institute of Archaeology of the University of Haifa and is directed by Prof. Arthur Segal. The Concordia University (St. Paul) team, led by Prof. Mark Schuler, is continuing a multi-year project to unearth the Northeast church. Located a short distance from the dramatic north cliff of the city, the Northeast church stands between the cathedral with its tri-apsidal baptistery and the Northwest church that is currently being excavated by a Polish team. The website for the Concordia dig may be found here.
Sussita, known as Hippos in antiquity, was a Decapolis city located 2 km east of the Sea of Galilee on the top of a flat diamond-shaped mountain that rises 350 m above the sea. It is likely the “city set on a hill that cannot be hid” (Matt 5:14). During Roman times, Hippos was a center of Greek culture. In the Byzantine era it became a significant Christian center.