Archeology: Roman PORTALOO contains 'hard material' with intestinal parasites 1500 years old

Archeology: Roman PORTALOO contains ‘hard material’ with intestinal parasites 1500 years old

A Roman ceramic vessel found in Sicily has been found to contain a “solid matter” containing 1,500-year-old eggs of intestinal parasites, suggesting it is a chamber pot.

A portable toilet 12.5 inches high and 13.4 inches wide was discovered by experts from the University of Cambridge in the baths of Villa Gerace.

Users could sit directly on the potty to defecate, or perhaps place it under a specially designed wooden or wicker chair, the team said.

The findings and similar future studies could improve our understanding of diet, sanitation and health in ancient times, the scientists say.

A Roman ceramic vessel (pictured) found in Sicily was found to contain

A Roman ceramic vessel (pictured) found in Sicily was found to contain “hard material” containing 1,500-year-old eggs of intestinal parasites, suggesting it was a chamber pot.

By examining the deposits encrusted inside the pot (pictured) under a microscope, the team identified whipworm eggs, a parasite unique to humans that lay eggs in the intestines that end up mixed with the feces of infected people.

By examining the deposits encrusted inside the pot (pictured) under a microscope, the team identified whipworm eggs, a parasite unique to humans that lay eggs in the intestines that end up mixed with the feces of infected people.

“We found that parasite eggs [pictured] were trapped in layers of minerals that formed on the surface of the pot, and thus preserved them for centuries, ”says author of the article and biologist-anthropologist Sophie Rabinov from the University of Cambridge.

“We found that parasite eggs [pictured] were trapped in layers of minerals that formed on the surface of the pot, and thus preserved them for centuries, ”says author of the article and biologist-anthropologist Sophie Rabinov from the University of Cambridge.

ABOUT VLASTICHNIK

Whipworms are parasitic roundworms that infect the lining of the human colon.

They can grow up to about 2 inches in length and are so named because they resemble whips.

Severe infections can cause symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, and fatigue.

In the photo: an adult female whipworm

In the photo: an adult female whipworm

They lay eggs that are eventually excreted in the faeces.

They are more common in tropical climates – and in 2015 infected about 464 million people worldwide.

Infections are treated with antiparasitic drugs.

The study was carried out by University of British Columbia archaeologist Roger Wilson, who runs the Gerache archaeological project, and colleagues.

“Conical pots of this type were quite common in the Roman Empire, and in the absence of other evidence they were often called storage vessels,” Professor Wilson explained.

However, he added, “The discovery of many in or near public toilets has led to speculation that they may have been used as chamber pots, but so far there has been no evidence.”

By examining the deposits encrusted inside the pot under a microscope, the team identified the eggs of the whipworm, a parasite unique to humans that lays eggs in the intestines that end up mixed with the feces of infected people.

Thus, the presence of eggs in the artifact strongly suggests that it was used as a chamber pot.

“It was incredibly exciting to find the eggs of these parasitic worms 1,500 years after they were laid,” said author and archaeologist Tianyi Wang of the University of Cambridge.

The eggs were found in layers of mineral deposits derived from urine and feces that had accumulated inside the pot from repeated use, the team said.

“We found that the eggs of the parasites were stuck in the layers of minerals that formed on the surface of the pot, which allowed them to be preserved for centuries,” says author and anthropologist biologist Sophie Rabinow from Cambridge.

“The results show that parasite analysis can provide important clues for the study of ceramics,” she added.

“This pot was taken from the bath complex of a Roman villa,” explained the author of the article and biological anthropologist Piers Mitchell of the University of Cambridge.

“It seems likely that those who visited the baths used this chamber pot when they wanted to go to the toilet, since the baths did not have their own built-in toilet.”

“Obviously, convenience was important to them,” he joked.

“Conical pots of this type were quite common in the Roman Empire, and in the absence of other evidence they were often called storage vessels,” Professor Wilson explained.  However, he added,

“Conical pots of this type were quite common in the Roman Empire, and in the absence of other evidence they were often called storage vessels,” Professor Wilson explained. However, he added, “The discovery of many in or near public toilets has led to speculation that they may have been used as chamber pots, but so far there has been no evidence.” In the photo: fragments of a chamber pot found at the site.

“This pot was found in the bath complex of a Roman villa,” explained the author of the article and biological anthropologist Piers Mitchell of the University of Cambridge.  toilet, as there was no built-in toilet in the baths.

“This pot was found in the bath complex of a Roman villa,” explained the author of the article and biological anthropologist Piers Mitchell of the University of Cambridge. toilet, as there was no built-in toilet in the baths.

“Where Roman pots in museums are noted to have these mineralized concretions inside the base, they can now be sampled using our technique to see if they were also used as chamber pots,” Dr. Mitchell added.

Of course, the team noted, this method would only work if at least one of the people who used the pot in question was infected with intestinal worms.

However, they added, if the incidence of parasites in Roman times was as high as it is today in the developing world — where more than half of all people carry at least one type — this approach should reveal most of the examples that retain the inlay.

The full results of the study were published in the Journal of Archaeological Science Reports.

A portable toilet 12.5 inches high and 13.4 inches wide was found by experts from the University of Cambridge in the baths of Villa Gerace.

A portable toilet 12.5 inches high and 13.4 inches wide was found by Cambridge University experts in the baths of Villa Gerace.

VILLA GERACE

Villa Gerace is a Roman residence of no less than 107,639 square feet located near Enna in the heart of Sicily.

Once part of a 3.5-hectare estate, the remains of the villa were first discovered in the early 1990s when one of its many colorful mosaic floors (which are found in five of the ten main rooms) was discovered after a flood.

Judging by the name carved into many of the restored tiles from the roof of the villa, the villa belonged to a man named Philippian.

The villa complex also included a thermal bath in which a chamber pot was discovered, analyzed by Professor Wilson and his colleagues.

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