Archaeology Magazine

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

Special Introductory Offer!

Pompeii’s Plumbing

Monday, January 14, 2013

SEATTLE—All but the first floors of most buildings in Pompeii were destroyed during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, but vertical pipes leading to lost second stories suggest that there were toilets upstairs in some buildings. Scrapings from the insides of these pipes revealed fecal material and traces of intestinal parasites. “We have 23 [surviving] toilets that are connected, that are second-story preserved, that are connected to these downpipes,” said A. Kate Trusler of the University of Missouri at the annual meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America. Her survey of Pompeii’s plumbing found that 43 percent of homes had latrines on the ground floor. The second-story toilets were found in a heavily populated area where people probably lived above street-level shops.