This is not Potty humor! From the Minoans to the Caliphate (one of two parts)

My travels in Turkey and Greece reminded me that I had NOT continued my series on toilets and bathrooms around the world!  So I paid special attention to these attractions this time around.  Surprisingly sophisticated facilities were found wherever I went.  The earliest (historically speaking) site was the “palace” of Knossos, in Heraklion, Crete.  The palace dates back to about 1700 BC and was inhabited by King Minos – of the minotaur fame.  When Minos refused to sacrifice the white bull given to him by Poseidon, Aphrodite punished him by making his wife fall in love and mate with a bull, resulting in a half bull half human offspring, the Minotaur!  This ferocious being was kept in a labyrinth built under the palace at Knossos by Daedalus.  The excavations are massive, the renovations and reconstructions mercifully limited.

One thing is apparent – there was an elaborate system to get water to the palace using aqueducts, and great drainage system with clay pipes.  Pride of place is occupied by a large, and surprisingly modern looking clay tub that the queen used for her ablutions.

And yes, there were sophisticated toilets flushed with water into drains below to take away the waste!

The Queen’s Megaron contained an example of the first water flushing system toilet adjoining the bathroom. This toilet was a seat over a drain flushed by pouring water from a jug. The bathtub located in the adjoining bathroom similarly had to be filled by someone heating, carrying, and pouring water, and must have been drained by overturning into a floor drain or by bailing. This toilet and bathtub were exceptional structures within the 1,300-room complex. (Wikipedia)

From the ancient Minoans we move on to the Island of Delos in Greece.  Located in the center of the Cyclades, a group if islands arranged in a circle – Delos is the holy of holies in Green mythology.  When Zeus let his wandering eye fall on Leto and got her pregnant, Hera tormented Leto and hounded her from place to place so she could find nowhere to give birth.  Eventually she came to Delos and here she gave birth first to Artemis (the goddess of hunting) and then to a son, Apollo (the sun god).  Inhabited by 10 – 15 archaeologists and caretakers at any given time, Delos is approached by boat and magical at first view!

Used almost continuously since the 3rd millenium BC until about the 2nd century AD, Delos was forever being destroyed and rebuilt under various regimes.   Several pathways lead through a market place with shops, to a residential district with many large houses.  The house of Dionysus is so known for its large mosaic of Dionysus astride a tiger/panther, speaking to his foreign (possibly Indian?) roots!

This house contains many rooms surrounding the large central one with the mosaic and Doric columns.   The kitchen is next door to a latrine facility containing a large drain with running water on which, one speculates, were situated wood seats!

The visit to Delos ends with a viewing of the Lions of Delos – stark white with a glow from the late afternoon sun.

Of course the boat ride back to Mykonos is no less amazing.  In the setting sun, one of the most picturesque of Greek islands puts forward an amazing show of light and color!


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