By Theresa Machemer/Smithsonianmag.com
Excavations at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London have revealed a nearly 15-foot-deep cesspit littered with roughly one hundred artifacts dating to the 14th and 15th centuries. Coincidentally, this precursor to the modern toilet was found in the exact spot where the Courtauld intends to build a new restroom as part of its current renovations.
Per a statement, researchers from the Museum of London Archaeology sifted through the trench’s thick green sludge to recover artifacts including ceramic dishes, wine bottles, tableware, an iron spur, a floor tile featuring designs commonly employed at palaces and monastic sites, and jewelry such as a pendant and a ring.
“We just kept going deeper and deeper. To find something of that size—and all the finds that came out of it as well—is very unusual,” MOLA archaeologist Antonietta Lerz tells the Guardian’s Dalya Alberge. “Almost every time we put our mattocks in the ground, something else came up.”
Archaeologists think the cesspit was part of the Chester Inn, a 15th-century mansion that once stood where the Somerset House, which houses the Courtauld, stands today. ….