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Scientists uncover rare ancient toilet in what was once royal mansion in Jerusalem

Oct. 5 (UPI) -- Archaeologists have discovered a rare private toilet in what was once a part of a royal mansion in Jerusalem, Israeli officials announced Tuesday.

Workers uncovered the 2,700-year-old bathroom from the First Temple period while excavating in the Armon Hanatziv neighborhood for the construction of a new tourist center.

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The limestone toilet, which was set above a septic tank carved into the bedrock, was extremely rare during the time period, said Yaakov Billig, director of excavation for the Israel Antiquities Authority.

"A private toilet cubicle was very rare in antiquity, and to date, only a few have been found, mostly in the City of David," he said on the IAA's Facebook page. "Only the rich could afford toilets. In fact, a thousand years later, the Mishnah and the Talmud discuss the various criteria that define a rich person, and Rabbi Yossi's option to be rich is by having a toilet near his table."

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IAA archaeologists previously discovered ornate stone capitals and small columns from a window handrail at the site. Evidence found during the dig suggested the toilet was located near a garden of ornamental and fruit trees, and aquatic plants.

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The authority said the discoveries allowed archaeologists to reconstruct what the First Temple period mansion may have looked like.

"It is fascinating to see how something obvious to us today, such as toilets, was a luxury item during the reign of the kings of Judah. ​​Jerusalem never ceases to amaze," IAA Director Eli Eskosido said.

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