History of Plumbing: Part 1

We take many luxuries of modern life for granted and plumbing is right up there with deodorant, air conditioning, and pizza delivery. We thought we'd take some time to explore the history of plumbing in human history and appreciate how far we've come since the "good old days."


Water wells were first dug in the Neolithic Period in the Jezreel Valley around 6500 B.C. These permanent structures served as a gathering place where humans could fill water vessels and carry them by hand to another location. Most human settlements depended on their water availability, so their size, population, and health were affected by their access to the stuff of life. As far as sewage goes - well, pit toilets and so-called chamber pots were the main alternatives to taking care of business in the open.

The Greek civilization of Crete, also referred to as the Minoan civilization, was the first to implement underground pipes for sanitation and water supply (hopefully separately). The capital, Knossos, had an organized system to bring in clean water, remove waste, and even had storm sewage canals for overflow during heavy rainfall. Their pipes were made from clay, making protection of the pipes paramount. They also had one of the first flush toilets and elaborate heating systems, but the Greeks of Athens and Asia Minor boasted indoor showers. These were amazingly modern in their design and wouldn't be far out of place today aside from the shower heads that resembled animal heads of various species.

The Greeks were also the first civilization to implement pressurized piping for fire fighting purposes in Alexandria, thanks to inventor Heron.

The Roman Empire, however, were the first to really get things right. Indoor plumbing was extensive - a system of aqueducts and pipes came in at homes, public wells, and even fountains. Their real fault was the use of lead pipes, though it isn't believed to be the cause of lead poisoning in the Roman Empire due to the lack of water contact with the pipes themselves.

Meanwhile in Asia, the Qin and Han Dynasties have also been known to use plumbing systems of some sort.


We'll return with the second part of series next week. In the meantime, if you feel like your plumbing has returned to Roman standards, contact the modern and decadent plumbing services of Pioneer Plumbing and Heating and we'll keep you living in comparative luxury.

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