Dudes today don’t realize how spoiled they are when it comes to wiping technology, so we’re taking a trip down the annals of anal hygiene history. Hopefully, learning about your ancestors’ struggles to clean up their poop will give you an appreciation for the Golden Age of Wiping we live in today.
In this 1+ million-year journey through history of wiping, we’ll ponder existential questions, such as: Why did my ancestors rub rocks on their rear ends?And, Why did the human species take thousands of years to adopt pain-free wiping materials?
Let’s start with the Stone Age.
The Stone Age (About 1 Million Years Ago)
Sadly (and painfully), the name gives it away here. For thousands of years, stones were the go-to wiping objects. Just rub some rocks on your rear end and toss it into the river, right? Hats off to these dudes for inventing fire, but boy, did they lack wiping wisdom. Hello, hemorrhoids.
Ancient Greece (800 BC)
The Greeks were leaps and bounds ahead of the Stone-Agers in the philosophy, art, and science departments, but not so much in the anal hygiene department. The ancient Greeks still used stones (called “pessoi”) and fragments of ceramic (the same material as modern flower pots) to wipe.
Some of these wiping relics have been discovered with people’s names inscribed on them, suggesting that the Greeks would wipe their asses with the names of their enemies. You can think of this as a foreshadowing of modern toilet paper that comes printed with your favorite enemy’s face.
Ancient Rome (800 BC)
Less painful but equally disgusting was the Roman wiping instrument called a tersorium. Sound fancy and sophisticated? Don’t let words fool you — it’s a sponge on a stick. To “sanitize” this contraption, the feces-laden sponge was soaked in vinegar or salt water, which is about as effective as washing your hands with sewer water.