The lowly plumber? Not so fast. The plumber, and the work he or she performs actually brings about the very existence of civilization. Without the plumber and proper flow of water into the population centers, and of course, the flow out of the waste you cannot have people come together to share the ideas, the wealth, the security, and all that modernity has to offer. Without the plumber there can be no empire. Take a look at the history of it all and we can come to this conclusion.

How it All Began
From the dust and ashes of history the testaments of the plumbers influence whispers to us from ruins of long forgotten empires. Nearly 4000 years ago the Minoan empire built a sprawling palace the boasted four separate drainage systems that evacuated the residents waste into a massive common sewer. The world’s first flushing toilet had been installed within this opulent construct a feat not to be repeated again until the 16th century.The glory of Rome came not only from its vast road systems, and powerful military but more so from the grand bath houses that enable camaraderie and philosophical discourses to occur, thus pushing the underpinnings of society into newer territory. All of these feats of engineering owe so much to the often maligned plumber.

Many centuries would pass as man moved in out of various empires with power remaining with one people for a period of time, but inevitably their structures would fall. Once, the sewers collapsed the empire would soon follow. Yet, the height of plumbing would not surpass the Minoans until the great empire of England begot Sir John Harington who assured his remembrance by history with the recreation of the flushable toilet. What would an empire be without proper plumbing?

Mankind owes its very existence to the plumber and how does one define the term and where does it come from? The Latin term plumbus means lead. Piping moved from terracotta to lead and lead connectors and the soldering and the linking together made those skilled in such matters indispensable. These workers became involved in all manner of movement of water to and from the centers of population. The key would be the removal of waste which without effective sewage systems would lead to nothing but disease and soon death and then the ultimate dissolution of empires. The plumber had been born, and his skills were key and his reputation and livelihood secured.

modern toilet

Rome the Empire of Plumbers

Rome enjoyed a love affair with the plumber as at its height it sported some 1300 public toilets and some 856 public baths. This assured the empires never ending need for skilled plumbers. Without question an empire could be measured by the number of plumbers in its employ.

As Rome spread it reached Britain bringing its technology and blending it with their existing facilities. By the time of Rome’s arrival the medical power of the luxurious Spas of the city of Bath had become part of English legend.

The Romans expanded these famed baths to that which would make Caesar proud and when powerful officials reached these furthest points of the empire they could at least enjoy some vestiges of civil life.

How sad it must have been when in the 6th century the power and belief in cleanliness disappeared with the last of the Roman legions, replacing it would be nothing but barbarian and chaos. Cleanliness and the engineering aspect of plumbing disappeared with the fall of the world’s greatest empires. The plumber had fallen out of favor much to the chagrin of civilization and those who dreamed of conquest. They simply could never comprehend why their powers waxed and waned so very quickly. The world would miss fair Rome with her opulence.

From the Rubble of Rome Comes the Plumber and Great Britain

Yet, out of the rubble of the bath houses would come the foundation of Great Britain. As Britain’s power began to rise the legends of the City of Bath with its restoratives spas were once more reclaimed by the engineers, and the plumbers as the men of the great Navy would flock there to heal themselves after fierce battle. Once more the fires beneath the bath house were ignited, and the plumber began his ascent once more.

The success of Britain almost destroyed it as a solution to the waste had to be resolved. Imagine the difficulty in dealing with the foulness that would flow into the river Thames from the offal of some three million inhabitants. The smell and possible spread of disease became too much to bear. Something had to be done in the name of civility. On one particularly warm series of summer days the muck of the three million churned and bubbled up to offend the substance of civilization.

Personal hygiene fared little better among the masses as running water did not exist. Yet with all of these problems it took until 1848 for the first Plumbing Code to be passed in England that mandated plumbing for every home. Certainly now the plumber would never be short work as over three million resident would need access to proper flushable sewage. With each subsequent decade the sewage problems were addressed at greater and greater levels allowing for higher and higher concentrations of population. Imagine the very back bone of modern life owes itself to specialization of labor which requires concentrations of populations which could not be possible without the power, aptitude and willingness of the plumber to get down in the much and make the problem fade away.

We Owe Everything to the Plumber

Now as we enter into the midway point of the 2000 teens we find some cities in modern countries tipping the scales at over ten million. None of this could be possible without the inventiveness of the plumber engineers who funnel the waste away and now such waste goes to treatment facilities. We can no longer dump such stuff, but now it must be cleaned. Society owes everything to the lowly plumber. Thank him or her the next time she comes to your home to snake you drain.