Israeli archaeologists have found a rare ancient toilet in Jerusalem dating back more than 2,700 years, when private bathrooms were a luxury in the holy city, authorities said Tuesday.
The Israeli Antiquities Authority said the smooth, carved limestone toilet was found in a rectangular cabin that was part of a sprawling mansion overlooking what is now the Old City. It was designed for comfortable sitting, with a deep septic tank dug underneath.
It is believed to be from the Kings of Judean period around the 7th century BCE.
"A private toilet cubicle was very rare in antiquity, and only a few were found to date," said Yaakov Billig, the director of the excavation.
"Only the rich could afford toilets," he said, adding that a famed rabbi once suggested that to be wealthy is "to have a toilet next to his table."
Animal bones and pottery found in the septic tank could shed light on the lifestyle and diet of people living at that time, as well as ancient diseases, the antiquities authority said.
The archaeologists found stone capitals and columns from the era, and said there was evidence of a nearby garden with orchards and aquatic plants - more evidence that those living there were quite wealthy.
All of these allow researchers to recreate a picture of an extensive and lush mansion, apparently a magnificent palace from the days of the First Temple that stood on the site.
Eli Eskosido, director of the IAA, said, "it is fascinating to see how something that is obvious to us today, such as toilets, was a luxury item during the reign of the kings of Judah. Jerusalem never ceases to amaze. One can only imagine the breathtaking view."
"I am convinced that the glorious past of the city will continue to be revealed to us in the future and will allow us to experience and learn about our past," he said.