Oldest traces of a dysentery-causing parasite were found in ancient toilets

Giardia was probably endemic to the Jerusalem region 2,600 years ago

An ancient toilet that looks like a square stone block with a circular hole in the middle

Using antibodies, researchers searched for the remains of the parasite giardia in decomposed feces under this and one other millennia-old toilet seat from sites in Jerusalem.

Ya’akov Billig

Giardia has plagued people for a long time.

The parasite can bring about dysentery — a miserable (and occasionally deadly) mixture of diarrhea, cramps and fever. Scientists have now uncovered traces of the giardia parasite in the remains of two roughly 2,600-year-old toilets once used by the wealthy denizens of Jerusalem.