Ancient hydraulic works

Phaistos lavatory

Use: Sanitary Facilities
Construction era: Minoan-Cycladic
Types: Lavatory
Operation era: Minoan-Cycladic
Location: Greece - Crete island - Phaistos Palace
  • Angelakis, A. N., D. Koutsoyiannis, and G. Tchobanoglous, Urban wastewater and stormwater technologies in ancient Greece, Water Research, 39(1), 210-220, 2005.

Although the function of Minoan rooms, it is difficult to define them with certainty. Evans, the famous archaeologist who discovered the Knossos Palace, identified three rooms at the Knossos as bathrooms. One of the most interesting rooms in the ground-floor in the residential quarter of the Knossos Palace was identified as a toilet with a wooden seat and a small flushing conduit. Remains of a clay tube were found just outside the door of the room. Apparently, water was poured through a hole in the floor immediately outside the lavatory door; an underfloor channel linked the hole with the vertical clay pipe under the toilet seat (Castleden, 1993). The toilet could thus be flushed even during a rainless summer, either by an attendant outside the lavatory or by the user. The toilet is probably the earliest flush toilet in history. The toilet is similar in function to that of the so called Queen’s Hall and the toilets found in the Phaistos and Mallia palaces and in some of the houses as well. Fortunately, one of the houses near the Palace at Mallia, known as Da, contains a toilet seat in nearly perfect condition, since it was made not of wood, like the seat of the Palace of Minos in Knossos but of solid stone. This stone seat is 68.6 cm long by 45.7 cm wide front to back and its surface is 35–38 cm above the floor. It is built directly against an outside wall through which a large sewer passes. Like the Knossos find, the structure was evidently intended to be used as a seat rather than a stand; thus, it resembles the ‘‘Egyptian’’ toilet more closely than the so-called ‘‘Turkish’’ type found in the Palaces at Mari and Alalakh in Syria (Graham, 1987). A similar toilet has been discovered in the west side of the so called ‘‘Queen’s Apartment’’ at Phaistos. It was connected to a closed sewer, part of which still exists.

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