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Ancient 'Toilet Paper' Discovered In Fishbourne Roman Palace
An examination of some strange ceramic disks found at the Fishbourne Roman Palace is changing how we look at some of the most private aspects of Roman life.
Excavations at the palace in the past 50 years have uncovered dozens of pieces of broken pottery that had been deliberately shaped into flat disks. Archaeologists tentatively called them gaming pieces but were never convinced that was correct. Now a new study published in the British Medical Journal suggests they were used to wipe Roman ass crack.
Palace curator Dr. Rob Symmons said in a press release, "Obviously, we will have to think about re-classifying these objects on our catalogue and then we will look into a scientific analysis to identify any tell-tale residues that prove that these objects were used for anal cleaning. Which should be fun."
Perhaps dip them in water and sniff?
It was already known that the Romans used sponges soaked in vinegar on the end of a stick to wash their rear ends. Ceramic disks wouldn't have been as hygienic (or comfortable) but could have worked.
Fishbourne in West Sussex is the largest Roman villa in Britain. Built in the first century A.D., its floors were decorated with elaborate mosaics that are in a remarkable state of preservation. It's unclear who lived there. Archaeologists have suggested either a Roman governor or a local British chieftain who threw in his lot with the conquerors. The palace burnt down around the year 270.
[Photo courtesy Fishbourne Roman Palace]