Nautilus

What Ancient Romans Used Instead of Toilet Paper

Our ancient Roman would simply wipe him- or herself, rinse the tersorium in whatever was available (running water and/or a bucket of vinegar or salt water), and leave it for the next person to use.Photograph by Kapustin Igor / Shutterstock

We’ve all been caught unawares by our digestive tract at one time or another.

It happened to the Nash family several months ago. We were nearing the end of an extended road trip, driving down a secondary highway through a sparsely populated area of Colorado at night, when one of my 9-year-old twin sons had to use the bathroom. Despite my pleading, he said he couldn’t make it to the next town. (He had to poop.) So we pulled over and headed for the bushes. After he took care of his business, we realized that we didn’t have toilet paper with

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

Related Interests

More from Nautilus

Nautilus5 min read
How the Neutrino’s Tiny Mass Could Help Solve Big Mysteries
Reprinted with permission from Quanta Magazine’s Abstractions blog. Of all the known particles in the universe, only photons outnumber neutrinos. Despite their abundance, however, neutrinos are hard to catch and inspect, as they interact with matter
Nautilus11 min read
The Rainforest Is Teeming with Consciousness: Our fate turns on retiring our dualist view of nature.
Since 1980, the temperature of the planet has risen by 0.8 degrees Celsius, resulting in unprecedented melting of the Greenland ice sheet and the acidification of oceans. In 2015, 175 million more people were exposed to heat waves compared with the a
Nautilus7 min readScience
We Need to Talk About Peat: Earth’s great storehouses of carbon are looking ominous.
In his poems about strange bodies buried in the bogs of Northern Europe, the late Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney describes peatlands filled with “drowned-mouse fibres dried up and the whole limp, soggy cluster … Of weed leaf and turf mould.” Such is th