Archaeologists Discover Ancient Toilet Over 2,700 Years Old in Jerusalem

by Jennifer Shea

In ancient times, private bathrooms were a rare luxury. And that makes Israeli archaeologists’ recent find all the more noteworthy.

Archaeologists uncovered a toilet that is more than 2,700 years old. It dates back to the 7th century BC, per the Associated Press. Located in Jerusalem, the ancient toilet is made of sleek, carved limestone. Archaeologists found it in a boxy cabin within an epic mansion. The mansion, which belonged to an aristocrat, looks out over the Old City.

The Israeli Antiquities Authority said the toilet led to a deep septic tank dug into the ground beneath it. Ancient plumbers designed the exterior to be comfy for the mansion’s residents to sit on.

Archaeologists’ Find Is One of Only a Few

The excavation director explained that in ancient times, toilets were unusual. So archaeologists have only ever dug up a handful of them.

“A private toilet cubicle was very rare in antiquity,” Yaakov Billig said. “And only a few were found to date. Only the rich could afford toilets.”

Billig recounted a tale about a respected rabbi. The rabbi once said that to be wealthy is “to have a toilet next to his table.” (Apparently, they knew little in those times about bacteria.)

The archaeologists found other clues that suggest the residents of the structure were very wealthy. There were stone capitals and columns typical of that time. Moreover, there were remnants of a garden with orchards and aquatic plants.

The septic tank contained animal bones and pottery. The Israeli Antiquities Authority said those could illuminate the lifestyle and diet of the ancient home’s residents. And they could also tell us about ancient diseases.

Discovery Presented to the Public to Bring the Past to Life

Archaeologists actually discovered the ancient toilet two years ago, Israel 21 reports. But they are only just now presenting it to the public.

Antiquities authorities said the find should fuel the imagination of tourists and locals alike. What’s more, it should help bring to life the ancient times of history books.

“It is fascinating to see how something that is obvious to us today, such as toilets, was a luxury item during the reign of the kings of Judah,” Eli Eskosido, Director of the Israel Antiquities Authority, told Israel 21. “One can only imagine the breathtaking view.”

This discovery is part of the new tourist complex at Armon Hanatziv. It is thanks to the joint efforts of the City of David, the Ministry of Tourism, the Jerusalem Municipality, the Ministry of Jerusalem Affairs and the Jewish National Fund.