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Sustainability 2016, 8(8), 779;

Evolution of Toilets Worldwide through the Millennia

Department of Architecture Engineering, National Technical University of Athens, Athens 10682, Greece
Department of Industrial Engineering, University of Salerno, via Ponte don Melillo II, Fisciano (SA) 84084, Italy
Social Sciences Department, Ladyss (UMR 7533-CNRS) and French Institute of Pondicherry (Umifre 21-CNRS/MAEE), University of Paris, 8, Saint-Denis 93200, France
Department of Civil Engineering, University of Chile, Santiago 8370449, Chile
Institutes of Social Sciences and Directorate of Distance Education, Bahaudin Zakariya Universit, Multan, Punjab 60800, Pakistan
Nationality Studies School, University of Yunnan, Kunming 650092, China
Department of Antiquity Studies, Faculty of Philosophy and Letters, University of Saragossa, P. Cerbuna 12, Saragossa 50006, Spain
Department of Architecture Engineering, Democritus University of Thrace, Xanthi 67100, Greece
Yunnan Academy of Social Sciences, Kunming 650000, China
School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287-5306, USA
Institute of Iraklion, National Foundation for Agricultural Research (N.AG.RE.F.), Iraklion 71307, Greece
Hellenic Union of Municipal Enterprises for water Supply and Sewerage, Larissa 41222, Greece
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Marc A. Rosen
Received: 18 March 2016 / Revised: 4 June 2016 / Accepted: 15 June 2016 / Published: 13 August 2016


Throughout history, various civilizations developed methodologies for the collection and disposal of human waste. The methodologies throughout the centuries have been characterized by technological peaks on the one hand, and by the disappearance of the technologies and their reappearance on the other. The purpose of this article is to trace the development of sewage collection and transport with an emphasis on toilets in ancient civilizations. Evolution of the major achievements in the scientific fields of sanitation with emphasis on the lavatory (or toilets) technologies through the centuries up to the present are presented. Valuable insights into ancient wastewater technologies and management with their apparent characteristics of durability, adaptability to the environment, and sustainability are provided. Gradual steps improved the engineering results until the establishment of the contemporary toilet system, which provides a combined solution for flushing, odor control, and the sanitation of sewerage. Even though the lack of proper toilet facilities for a great percentage of the present day global population is an embarrassing fact, the worldwide efforts through millennia for the acquisition of a well-engineered toilet were connected to the cultural level of each period. View Full-Text
Keywords: latrine; lavatory; wastewater; S-trap; Mesopotamian; Minoan; Greek; Roman; Indus Valley Civilizations; Egyptians; Byzantines; Pre-Columbians latrine; lavatory; wastewater; S-trap; Mesopotamian; Minoan; Greek; Roman; Indus Valley Civilizations; Egyptians; Byzantines; Pre-Columbians

Figure 1

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Antoniou, G.P.; De Feo, G.; Fardin, F.; Tamburrino, A.; Khan, S.; Tie, F.; Reklaityte, I.; Kanetaki, E.; Zheng, X.Y.; Mays, L.W.; Angelakis, A.N. Evolution of Toilets Worldwide through the Millennia. Sustainability 2016, 8, 779.

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