While we take pride in sharing regular advice and insights to help you care for your residential or commercial plumbing systems, we also love sharing the amazing history of sanitation.

Today, we want to do just that by taking a deep dive into the ancient timeline of plumbing systems around the world.

We’re going to take a look at the first toilet, a plumbing system involving a pigsty and 21st century solutions in B.C. bathhouses. Let’s get into it.

First up: Scotland and the 5000-year-old neolithic toilet

Many think the Greeks were the world’s first plumbers. However, Allan Burnett, a historian and the author of ‘Invented In Scotland’, believes a neolithic settlement in Orkney beat them to it.

Allan has argued that the first ever indoor toilet was located in the Skara Brae settlement, where small rooms in stone huts were found to be connected to drains built into village walls.

Archaeologists believe that occupants of these homes would flush waste down the drains using buckets of water, and that it would then be carried out to the ocean by the labyrinth of pipes.

Tree bark lining has even been discovered in some parts of the ancient system, believed to have been added to make the drains watertight.

Pretty advanced for a plumbing job that dates back to 3000 B.C.!

Next: China, bamboo and pig toilets

In 251 BC Li Bing of the Sichuan prefecture in China led the local people in building the first irrigation network in the world, called the Dujiang Weirs.

It has been told that hollow bamboo reeds played an incredibly important part in the role of this structure, helping to carry water to homes and communities.

That wasn’t the only plumbing innovation born in China either. History also tells us that from at least the Han Dynasty onwards, the Chinese used pig toilets.

These were toilet systems that connected a latrine to a pigsty nearby using a chute system. Excrement and waste that was flushed down was then eaten by the pigs!

Finally: Terracotta Pipes and time-travelling plumbing solutions

The ancient Indus Valley civilisation stretched from the Basins of the Indus River, through Pakistan and the seasonal Ghaggar-Hakra river, northwest India and eastern Pakistan.

And for a civilisation that dates back to 3300 B.C., their strategies for sanitation were truly a sight to be seen – with many following the same structure of today’s plumbing systems!

Most homes had access to ahead-of-their-time water and waste handling through a washing platform and toilet/waste disposal hole that was connected to an outdoor drainage system.

The washing platform would redirect water waste to covered drains in the street with terracotta pipes being used to transport water where two-storey homes required waste removal!

Toilet holes, on the other hand, would be flushed by emptying a jar of water (drawn from private, central wells!) down them. The waste would be taken through a clay brick pipe, hand built with precisely laid bricks, and deposited into a shared drain, which would feed into a soak pit nearby.

These pits were regularly emptied of their solid matter, with the waste likely being recycled and used as fertiliser!

Back in the 21st century, our team can keep your plumbing system in good health.

We are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to help anyone in the Brisbane metropolitan area with residential and commercial plumbing maintenance or emergencies.

All you need to do is pick up the phone, dial 07 3073 9211 and you’ll get to talk to a member of our team.

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