Dating to the 14th century B.C.E., this toilet seat hails from the site of Tell el-Amarna in Egypt. Made from a slab of limestone, the seat measures 21.6 by 17.7 inches. While the bottom of the seat is rough, its surface is smoothed and carved in a concave U-shape with a hole incised in the middle. A wide slot connects this hole to the front of the seat. Gypsum plaster was used to secure the seat to mudbrick walls below.
The seat was discovered in a house (T35.22) at el-Amarna. Despite its mundane nature, this discovery is quite uncommon.a A few wooden toilet frames from other sites have also survived. If the majority of toilet seats were made of wood, which does not preserve well, this might explain why so few have survived.
Although the city had no drain or sewers, other latrines were discovered in houses at Tell el-Amarna. One such toilet, discovered in house T36.11, was elevated so that one would sit at a height of 7 to 11.8 inches above the ground. While there was no latrine pit, there was space for a removable vessel to sit on the floor underneath the toilet seat. Barry Kemp explains: “It is a near-inescapable conclusion that a bowl, of metal or of pottery and perhaps used beneath a wooden seat, was the standard temporary receptacle for human waste.” The Egyptians, who had a high standard of cleanliness, disposed of their waste—possibly by dumping it on “areas of wasteland”—rather than flushing it away or storing it.
Tell el-Amarna was built by the pharaoh Akhenaten, who overhauled Egyptian religion during his reign, dictating that Egyptians worship only Aten, the sun disk.b His new capital Akhetaten (modern Tell el-Amarna) was located on the Nile River between the former Egyptian capital Memphis and Thebes, the religious center.
After his death, Akhenaten was denounced as a heretic, and his capital was abandoned. Thus, Tell el-Amarna serves as a unique time capsule to this period of Egyptian history. The extensive el-Amarna archive of cuneiform tablets includes diplomatic correspondence with other rulers throughout the ancient Near East, including Jerusalem and other cities in Canaan.
Akhenaten was the father of Tutankhamun, who also lived at Amarna for a short time before moving the capital.
A. Roman key hole
B. Mycenaean mask
C. Egyptian toilet seat
D. Byzantine molding
E. Crusader window frame
062 Answer: (C) Egyptian toilet seat
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