What Ancient Civilization Had Sewers?

Sewers have been an essential part of human civilization for thousands of years. They are the infrastructure that allows us to live in densely populated areas without being overwhelmed by waste and disease.

But did you know that the ancient world had sewers too? Let’s take a closer look at which ancient civilization had sewers.

Indus Valley Civilization

The Indus Valley Civilization, which existed from approximately 3300 BCE to 1300 BCE, is one of the earliest known examples of a society with a sophisticated sewage system. The city of Harappa, one of the largest cities in the civilization, had a complex network of brick-lined drains and sewers that were designed to carry wastewater out of the city and into nearby rivers.

Roman Civilization

The Romans are perhaps most famous for their engineering feats, and their sewer systems were no exception. The Cloaca Maxima, or “Great Drain,” was one of the first sewage systems in Rome and was built around 600 BCE. It was designed to carry wastewater out of the city and into the Tiber River.

As Rome grew larger and more populous, its sewer system became more complex. The Aqua Claudia and Anio Novus aqueducts brought fresh water into the city while also providing a means for carrying away waste.

Chinese Civilization

The Chinese civilization is another example of an ancient society with advanced sewage systems. In fact, some historians believe that China may have had sewers before any other civilization.

In ancient China, cities were built along rivers or near bodies of water. This made it easy to dispose of waste by simply dumping it into the river. However, as cities grew larger, this practice became unsustainable.

As early as 1500 BCE, Chinese engineers began constructing intricate systems of channels and pipes made from bamboo or clay to transport wastewater away from cities.

Greek Civilization

While the Greeks are not known for their sewer systems, they did have some basic infrastructure to manage waste. In Athens, for example, there was a rudimentary system of drains and sewers that carried wastewater out of the city and into the nearby sea.


In conclusion, many ancient civilizations had sewers or some form of wastewater management system. These systems were often essential to the health and well-being of cities and their inhabitants. Today, we take for granted the benefits of modern sanitation systems, but it’s important to remember that our ancient ancestors were also concerned with keeping their cities clean and safe.