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The Indus Valley Civilization had an advanced plumbing system because they made use of simple plumbing systems that allowed each home to have drainage pipes that led into sewers that were maintained well by the city. They also placed a lot of importance on staying clean as early as 5,000 years ago.
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What was the first civilization to have plumbing?
Having a good plumbing system is so vital for making sure that you have a home or even an entire society that is clean, sanitary, and healthy.
After all, you always want to make sure that you keep your waste away from any person that can end up getting sick from them. As such, this is why a great plumbing system is a must-have in any kind of society or civilization if it wants to succeed and keep its populace healthy and happy.
Then again, not a lot of people know about the fact that good plumbing systems are actually very ancient. We are not talking about a mere handful of centuries here or even 1,000 to 2,000 years ago.
Instead, we are talking about how plumbing was already an important part of human civilization several thousands of years ago back when no one could even think of how humans were able to realize early on how important plumbing is to society.
But what was the first civilization to actually have a good and working plumbing system?
The earliest known civilization to have a good and working plumbing system was the Indus Valley Civilization, which is one of the earliest known civilizations in the world.
This civilization happened in South Asia, particularly the area around the northern part of India and a good portion of the modern-day region we know of as Pakistan. The civilization is thought to have existed somewhere around 3,500 BC, which is more than 5,000 years ago.
So, as primitive as the people of the Indus Valley Civilization may have been in comparison to our current modern-day civilization, what not a lot of people know of is that they already had a comparatively advanced plumbing system back then all while other civilizations in the world probably did not even understand the importance of plumbing.
In that regard, the evidence points that houses during the Indus Valley Civilization already had advanced drainage systems that allowed the homes to drain their waste out into what was regarded as well-maintained sewers that were strategically placed all over the city.
That means that they indeed had a plumbing system that was actually well-planned and was not just simply a system that relied on holes in the ground.
How was the plumbing system of the Indus Valley?
So, while the Indus Valley Civilization did indeed have a good plumbing system back then in comparison to other civilizations that came after them, one could only wonder how exactly good their plumbing system as if the civilization is often regarded as the first to have developed a good and working plumbing system.
First off, what you should know is that the Indus Valley Civilization already had envisioned every house to have working baths and drainage systems while most other civilizations that came hundreds or even thousands of years after them relied more on public baths and on poor waste collection and drainage.
The drainage system of each home all had brick pipes that allowed the waste to flow out of the home and into sewer systems. Of course, what made the pipes as modern as they were was the fact that they were located under raised floors.
They may not have been made from the metal and the PVC pipes that we have today but they were certainly good enough to actually keep the waste out of the individual homes back then. And the fact that the pipes were located under raised floors proves that the Indus Valley Civilization actually planned each home to have a good drainage system.
So, drainage worked as each home had a hole in the ground that connected to the brick pipes. What the families were doing is that they were dropping their wastes down in the hole along with water to make sure that their waste would end up draining into the city, which maintained sewer lines that were strategically located.
Meanwhile, the more affluent cities of the Indus Valley Civilization actually had toilet-like fixtures that allowed them to flush their waste down using water similar to how we flush our own toilet wastes with water.
But, unlike the modern flushing systems we have today, the people back then used jars of water to flush their waste down the toilet.
Of course, the waste in their toilets would also flow into the individual pipes found in each home until they reach the city sewers. And what made this remarkable is that modern flushing systems would not be invented until 5,000 years after the Indus Valley Civilization saw its demise.
Of course, there were still public baths that the people in some cities used even though most homes had their own baths. The public baths were also well-maintained and had water that drained into brick pipes.
How was the sewer system of the Indus Valley?
We were mentioning the fact that the Indus Valley Civilization actually had a sewer line that was connected to all of the pipelines found in every home in most of the major cities. But how good was their sewer system?
So, unlike other civilizations that relied on sewer systems that were open and exposed, the sewer systems of the Indus Valley Civilization were actually made from closed bricked pipes that were located underground. This allowed the waste to flow without allowing the fumes to air out in the open.
The city also supervised and maintained the sewers well enough. And a lot of those sewer lines are actually considered to be better than some of the sewer systems found in the most impoverished parts of Pakistan and India today.
The sewer line actually allows the waste to flow out of the city so that they would reach strategically located areas where they are dumped far away from the city and inhabited sectors of the civilization.
This ensured that their water supply and their air would not get contaminated by the waste coming from the city sewers.
In some of the more affluent cities of that time, they even made it a point to dump the waste into places where it can be recycled as fertilizer for their crops. This meant that the Indus Valley Civilization already understood as early as back then how useful human waste can still be if used as fertilizer.
Where did the Indus Valley Civilization get their water?
While the Indus Valley Civilization had an advanced plumbing system, let’s be real when we say that they still relied on the classic and more traditional way of getting their water back then.
Of course, we are talking about getting water from nearby rivers, which were the common sources of fresh and clean water during the times when the more modern ways of getting water were still very much non-existent.
The fact that the Indus Valley Civilization and most other early civilizations of the past were located near rivers is evidence that points to the possibility that they relied more on their rivers for their source of freshwater.
This is why the Indus Valley Civilization’s cities were located near the basins of the Indus river, which is the namesake of the civilization.
Most homes were keeping water in clean jars made of brick and mortar so that they wouldn’t have to go to the river every single time they needed water.
They also kept these jars in their homes, which explains why jars were quite common in the homes discovered in the cities that thrived during the Indus Valley Civilization.
By looking at the way the Indus Valley Civilization constructed its plumbing system, it becomes easy to understand why we often regard their plumbing system as advanced considering that it would take a few thousands of years later for other civilizations to even have plumbing systems that are close to what the people of the Indus Valley Civilization had.
Of course, this also leads us to conclude that the people of that civilization more than 5,000 years ago already knew how important sanitation is to the health of the entire populace.
Sanitation, even until today, is often overlooked when it comes to designing cities, but the fact that the Indus Valley Civilization already found it very important thousands of years ago is truly amazing.