Unveiling the Past: Exploring the History of Public Latrines in Ancient Rome

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Unveiling the Past: A Look at the History of Roman Public Toilets

When Rome was still around, almost every city had public latrines. A lot of people, sometimes more than twenty at a time, could use these bathrooms, which were usually found in fancy places. Today, the idea of public toilets might seem unimportant, but in Roman times, they were very important.

The Scholastica Baths of Ephesus, which are in what is now Turkey, are an example of this type of building. These public toilets were built in the first century AD, and you had to pay to use them. The latrines were built with a pool in the middle that wasn’t covered and toilets lined up along the walls. A roof was held up by wooden columns that went around the pool, and there was a drainage system under the toilets.

Carole Raddato

Archaeological finds in Ostia, a port city close to Rome, have given us a good look at how Roman public latrines were built and used. The public toilets at the Forum Baths in Ostia are truly impressive. According to a movie by toldinstone, these latrines were decorated and had a lot of dangers.

Roman latrines’ structure and how they worked can also be seen in reconstruction drawings. One of these pictures shows the public toilet at Forum Hadriani in Aurelium Cananefatium, which is in Germania Inferior, which is now the Netherlands. It shows a row of wooden benches set up over a drain. There is a gutter in front of the benches where troops could wash the sponges they used instead of toilet paper.

Another reconstruction drawing shows the public toilets that were used at Britain’s Housesteads Roman Fort (Vercovicium). This picture gives us an idea of how the men used the fort’s facilities while they were there.


The fact that these public latrines exist shows how advanced Roman engineering and city planning were back then. They were necessary amenities for both locals and tourists, and they helped keep the cities clean and infrastructure in good shape. Looking into the past of public latrines not only gives us an interesting look into the daily lives of the Romans, but it also shows us how far they came in improving hygiene and public health.

Carole Raddato

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