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Did I Find a Biblical Toilet Seat? (1999)

During a recent field trip with my class to Biblical Mizpah (10km north of Jerusalem) one of the students noticed an odd shaped slab of stone. It was rectangular, yet indented inside, with a small hole at the bottom of the indentation.

Although found on the surface I believe it dates to the period when the site was most important – the sixth century BCE. After destroying the temple in Jerusalem and taking Zedekiah, the last king of Judah, in prison to Babylon, the Babylonians appointed “Gedaliah son of Ahikam” as governor of captured Judah, and set Mizpah as the new capital.

Archaeological work at the site revealed public buildings from those days, but not much evidence from other periods.  Being so I believe my find is a latrine from that period as well.

Private toilet seats from that period are rare, but known. One famous example is known from the City of David. My find differs in that it cannot be used by sitting on, like the found in the City of David, but only by standing or bending above it. Using such a latrine can be for certain uses less comfortable but is more hygienic.

Biblical Latrine