Evolution of toilets worldwide through the millennia

Georgios P. Antoniou, Giovanni De Feo, Franz Fardin, Aldo Tamburrino, Saifullah Khan, Fang Tie, Ieva Reklaityte, Eleni Kanetaki, Xiao Yun Zheng, Larry Mays, Andreas N. Angelakis

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number779
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 13 2016


  • Byzantines
  • Egyptians
  • Greek
  • Indus Valley Civilizations
  • Latrine
  • Lavatory
  • Mesopotamian
  • Minoan
  • Pre-Columbians
  • Roman
  • S-trap
  • Wastewater

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment


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