This animation, created by Francis de los Reyes (you may already know his Ted Talk) and animated by Igor Coric, does a great job of exploring the history of toilets in just five minutes! You will find the usual suspects (Rome, Mesopotamia, Crapper...), and a useful view of where we are today and what needs to be done – not just technology.
As well done as it is, I can't help but feel irritated by some bits of this animation:
- To my knowledge the Cloaca Maxima in Rome didn't include aqueducts: these were used to channel water to the city, and into the sewer system.
- The authors contrast the advanced reuse of excreta in China with the "Dark Ages" of Medieval Europe, an unfortunate and common trope: were the gong-farmers (pictured here as shameful night-time thieves) really that different to Chinese farmers, in allowing nutrient recovery?
- Showing sewerage as the most "normal" / "advanced" form of sanitation – through the narrative and the choiceof pictograms – doesn't help to realise that we need more diversity in the solutions.
- And a pet peeve of mine, saying 'sewage' instead of 'sewerage'.
But these are nit-picking from a toilet enthusiast. Show this to the kids!
Image credits: A brief history of toilets
More information: Ted Ed
Spotted thanks to: The Kids Should See This