A latrina (toilet), which is considered to have been used by artists, was found in the theater of the ancient city of Smyrna, where excavations have been going on for 5 years with the support of the Izmir Metropolitan Municipality. Smyrna Ancient City Excavation Head Assoc. Dr. Akın Ersoy said that for the first time in the Mediterranean, they witnessed a place used as a toilet in a theater stage building.
The findings obtained during the excavations carried out in the 2-year-old Ancient City of Smyrna, located on the slope of the Kadifekale district of Izmir, continue to shed light on the social and cultural life of the period. A latrina (toilet) was found in the theater of the ancient city, which was covered with earth 400 years ago and excavations are underway with the support of the Izmir Metropolitan Municipality to bring it to light. Smyrna Ancient City Excavation Director, İzmir Katip Çelebi University Turkish-Islamic Archeology Department Lecturer Assoc. Dr. Akın Ersoy, with the permission of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, said that they came across unexpected finds during the work carried out on behalf of İzmir Katip Çelebi University and they were excited. Stating that they came across the latrina during the excavation, Akın Ersoy said, “There are latrinas serving the audience near the theaters we know, but it is a first for a place like this to be used as a toilet in the stage building of the theater.”
“A first in theaters in the Mediterranean region”
Ersoy explained the features of the latrina they found as follows: “It is a toilet with a U-shaped seating arrangement, as we see more often in Anatolia, that 12-13 people can use together. The use of this toilet space by a large number of people also brought socialization. We think that it was used only by artists working in the stage building and performing in the theatre. Because the stage building is closed to the audience. Since it is in a closed area, it is possible to consider it as an 'artist toilet'. This is a first for theaters in the Mediterranean region.”
Stating that the history of the theater dates back to the 2nd century BC, and that the latrina was built during the major changes made in the theater in the 2nd century AD (AD), Ersoy added that the latrina and the theater were used until the 5th century AD.
Features of latrina
Located in the Smyrna Antique Theater with a capacity of 20 thousand spectators, the latrina is approximately 40 centimeters high. It has a structure where people can sit side by side at intervals of 60 to 70 centimeters. In front of the bench, there is a U-planned 8-10 cm deep water trough that constantly flows clean water at ground level. The constantly flowing clean water trough allows people to be cleaned with the help of a sponge attached to the stick. Seating benches are mostly wooden, as in the case of Smyrna. Toilet holes are in the form of a key lock.
Izmir Metropolitan Municipality is the main supporter of the excavations in the ancient city of Smyrna. Since 2012, the amount of support given by the Izmir Metropolitan Municipality to the excavation has exceeded 12 million liras.