Speed Reads


Archaeologists discover earliest known wooden toilet seat

A recent dig in a trench at Vindolanda, an ancient Roman fort south of Hadrian's wall in northern England, revealed an interesting discovery: a wooden toilet seat.

Dr. Andrew Birley, the director of excavations at Vindolanda, found the toilet seat, which dates back to the Roman Empire, at the site. While stone and marble seats have been excavated at other digs, Dr. Birley believes this is the "only surviving wooden seat" from the period, and he suspects the seat was abandoned before the construction of Hadrian's Wall began.

The toilet seat was well-preserved thanks to Vindolanda's oxygen-free trench environment. The 2,000-year-old seat will take 18 months to conserve, according to the Vindolanda Trust, and it will be displayed at the Vindolanda Roman Army Museum when the preservation efforts are completed. Now that the seat has been discovered, Dr. Birley hopes to find the toilet with which it was associated, in case any other artifacts, such as jewelry or coins, were dropped into the latrine by mistake.

"We know a lot about Roman toilets from previous excavations at the site and from the wider Roman world, which have included many fabulous Roman latrines, but never before have we had the pleasure of seeing a surviving and perfectly preserved wooden seat," Dr. Birley said in a statement. "It is made from a very well worked piece of wood and looks pretty comfortable." --Meghan DeMaria