What did people use before toilet paper? (photos)

In case you were wondering…

The first recorded use of something resembling toilet paper comes from 6th century China where the more affluent members of society would use wads of paper to clean their nether regions.

In the Tang dynasty, a visiting diplomat to China from the middle east commented: “They are not careful about cleanliness, and they do not wash themselves with water after they have done their necessities, but they only wipe themselves with paper.”

(Early Chinese hemp fiber paper)

By the Song dynasty, the Emperor decreed that paper measuring 2 feet by 3 feet be made available for his bathroom needs. This is the first-time paper was made specifically for toileting.

(Remains of Roman public toilets at Carthage)

Sometimes this would be passed from person to person, and occasionally someone would end up grabbing the wrong end of the stick, leading to much hilarity and sometimes infection and death.

Seneca tells the story of a Germanic gladiator in 64AD who committed suicide by tersorium rather than face the horrors of the Colosseum.

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