Greetings from Crete: 4000-Year-Old Flush Toilet No Longer Flushing

If you can handle waiting in line for tickets for more than an hour, you shall be rewarded: the largest and most famous Minoan palace, Knossos (just south of the city of Iraklion, on Crete) is well worth the trip. It’s a Bronze-age palace excavated only in the last century, and holds many interesting features that still tell us relatively little about the Minoan culture or lives. It does reveal one hugely important fact: they knew the value of plumbing.

It turns out that they may have the oldest flush toilet in the world, dating from between 2500 and 1500 BC. According to the tour guide, they had three plumbing systems in the castle, one to collect rain water, one to provide drinking water, and the third to eliminate the results.

And the terracotta water pipes, looking almost exactly like today’s pipes, are intact and can be seen on a visit.

It appears to scientists that they used a wooden toilet seat, even. We’re just not sure if the furry seat cover originated then, or later.