From the 2nd century BC, the Chinese already designed a toilet paper whose main use was the intimate toilet. It is known that the Romans used a sponge tied to a stick (also known as tersorium) that they soaked in salt water to clean themselves after defecating.
These sponges they were even used in public latrines, which after use were rinsed with running water and left in a bucket waiting for the next individual who needed to relieve their intestines.
And is that before invention of toilet paper, human beings resorted to any material that minimally fulfilled a cleaning function, such as lettuce, rags, skins, grass, coconut or corn leaves ...
One of the documents that attest to the use and existence of the tersorium is one of the epistles that the politician and philosopher Seneca sent Lucilio (a Roman procurator of the province of Sicily). In letter number seventy of the Letters from a Stoic, Seneca describes to his receiver an episode in which a Roman gladiator preferred to end his own life by sticking the stick of one of these sponges in his throat, rather than having to face the horrors of the arena.
But despite being unhygienic and uncomfortable As the use of the tersorium may seem to us, this piece promised to be softer and more comfortable than the pieces of clay and stone used by the ancient Greeks.
Although apparently Gods weren't the only thing the Romans copied from the Greeks. A study published in the British Medical Journal, co-written by the director of the forensic team at the Raymond Poincaré de Garches hospital (Paris), Philippe Charlier, has confirmed that the tokens used in the game that the ancient Greeks called pessoi (a game of strategy that would be the origin of what we know today as ladies), they would have been used for other less playful and more eschatological purposes.
These ceramic discs were used to scrape up fecal matter after bowel movements, the researchers determined. This was verified with two terracotta tokens from the 2nd century AD. (probably from broken amphorae) that were found very close to some Roman latrines, and that had been filed down to smooth edges.
The smallest piece was found on the island of Ustica, north of Palermo (Sicily), and measures 4.7 centimeters in diameter, 1.7 centimeters thick. The largest fragment was found in Gortina, on the southern coast of Crete, and is 6 centimeters in diameter, 1.3 centimeters thick.
To expert archaeologists and museum curators They have found it frankly surprising, and somewhat humorous, this finding. To Dr. Rob Symmons, curator of the Fishbourne Roman Palace (the largest Roman villa in Great Britain), it was very funny to think that all the records they were showing might not have had as cerebral a function as the pessoi could at first imply.
«The pieces had always been classified as broken parts of a game, although I was never particularly happy with that explanation. But when I read the article where they theorized that these fragments had been used to clean people's underworld, I found it amusing and it just appealed to me. I love the idea of thinking that for fifty years we have had these museum remains in great ignorance, and now suddenly we can know the history of these items«.
Symmons, who has been working in the museum for seven yearsHe added: «Obviously we are going to have to consider the reclassification of these objects in our catalog. But we hope the pieces make people smile when they find out what they were for.«.
Finally, the doctor has ironized: «Surely the Romans must have found it very harsh when using it, and I doubt they would prefer it to the toilet paper roll we use today«.