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Antiquity: the oldest dildo, inn and flush toilet in the world

Archaeologists from Newcastle University and University College Dublin have re-examined a 2,000-year-old phallus-shaped wooden object found in a Roman fort in Northumberland in 1992. Researchers say this may be the only known Roman life-size dildo used for erotic play. Alternatively, the object may have served as a pestle for culinary, cosmetic and medicinal purposes or may have been part of a statue that people touched for luck.

At an archaeological site dating to around 2700 BC  in the ancient Sumerian city-state of Lagash, archaeologists from the Universities of Pisa and Pennsylvania have discovered what is probably the oldest known inn. It consisted of seven rooms with a courtyard with benches and a kitchen with a mule brick oven. The kitchen also had a primitive refrigerator – two bottomless clay jars that used evaporation to cool perishable ingredients. According to archaeologists, the ancient inn served beer, dates and dried fish, among other meals.

Chinese archaeologists have discovered the remains of what is probably the oldest 2,400-year-old flush toilet in the world. A team of researchers from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences worked within the ruins of an ancient palace at an archaeological site in Yueyang, Xi’an. The toilet was said to have been located inside the palace and had a pipe leading to the outer pit. It may have been reserved for high-ranking officials in the Age of Warring Kingdoms and the later Han Dynasty. After each use, servants were to pour water into the toilet bowl.

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