When Did Plumbing Start?

Water is essential to life, and plumbing has been a big part of how societies have changed over time.

Early civilizations like the Greeks, Romans, and Chinese were the originators of plumbing.  As these societies advanced, they each came up with ways to water their plants, provide baths and clean water, and get rid of their waste. Here are a few of the most important things that happened in history that changed how plumbing works today.

Prehistory-Middles Ages

  • The first pipes were made with baked clay and straw, and the Egyptians made the first pipes using copper. They dug wells up to 300 feet deep and came up with the design for the water wheel. 
  • The Greeks figured out how to make hot and cold running water. They invented what we know as a shower for athletes to use after the Olympics.
  • The Romans accomplished the most major achievements, constructing channels that transported water from the hills to the city and dispersed it underground via lead pipes.
  • Wood was used to keep a constant furnace to heat water in the Roman baths. The public restrooms had 20 seats in a room, and water ran under them all the time to carry waste to the sewer. As the population increased, the garbage made diseases spread.

The plumbing technology stopped advancing for a very long time after the fall of Rome. 

Modern plumbing: The Beginning

During the 1850s, New York City began to construct its sewers. Under the city’s surface, miles of pipes were laid. These replaced the older systems, which were put in the 1740s  with tunnels that are still in use today.

In the second half of the 1800s, indoor plumbing became common in the homes of the rich. They dumped their trash right into the sewers below, and this was a long time before sewage treatment plants were invented.

Slowly, cities all over the world started to grow and update their old ways. As the 20th century was coming to an end, the rich people who lived in big cities had easy access to plumbing. Most average people still didn’t have basic things like running water, which was sad.

From the time of the ancient Egyptians to the end of the 20th century, plumbing fixtures have undergone numerous transformations. This extensive history of innovation has greatly improved our quality of life, making it difficult to fathom a world without basic plumbing.

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