AKG London/Peter Connolly

Based on references in the writings of the ancient Roman authors Seneca and Martial, many scholars think ancient latrine users cleaned themselves with sponges, which they applied through the front opening. The users then fastened the soiled sponges to sticks and dipped them in water that flowed in the channel at their feet to clean them for the next user. The illustration opposite shows how the runnel may have been used in an elegantly appointed communal latrine. Also shown is a set of water-filled troughs that hold extra dipping sticks.