In a time of panicked pandemic buying, it can be tempting to think back to a time of abundant toilet paper supplies—or to wonder how people used to wipe in the age before 24-packs of extra-soft three-ply sheets. Hundreds of millions of people around the world today, particularly in the Middle East and Asia, don’t even bother with the stuff, preferring instead to finish their bathroom visit with a clean rinse of water. But archaeologists and anthropologists have done plenty of interesting dirty work as they document how people wiped themselves in other cultures back in the day.
If you relieved yourself in a public latrine in ancient Rome, you may have used a tersorium to wipe. These ancient devices