What Ancient Civilization Invented Plumbing?

Plumbing is an essential part of modern society, providing us with clean water for drinking, bathing, and sanitation. But have you ever wondered who invented plumbing? Well, the truth is that plumbing has been around for thousands of years and was first developed by an ancient civilization.

The Indus Valley Civilization

The Indus Valley Civilization, which existed in the region that is now Pakistan and India from 3300 BCE to 1300 BCE, is believed to be the first civilization to invent plumbing. The Indus Valley people were known for their advanced knowledge of water management and sanitation.

The Great Bath

One of the most impressive examples of their plumbing system is the Great Bath, which was discovered in the ruins of Mohenjo-Daro, a city that was once part of the Indus Valley Civilization. The Great Bath is a large pool made of bricks and lined with a waterproof material made from bitumen. It measures approximately 39 feet long, 23 feet wide, and 8 feet deep.

Advanced Drainage System

The Great Bath was not only used for bathing but also served as a reservoir for fresh water. The Indus Valley people had an advanced drainage system that collected wastewater from homes and buildings and directed it into public drains that ran beneath the streets. These drains eventually emptied into the nearby river.

Ancient Rome

While the Indus Valley Civilization may have been the first to invent plumbing, it was Ancient Rome that perfected it. The Romans were known for their sophisticated aqueducts, which transported water from distant sources into cities and towns.


The aqueducts were made possible by their mastery of arches and concrete construction. They could span vast distances while maintaining a consistent gradient to ensure steady water flow. Once inside a city or town, the water was distributed through a network of pipes made from lead or terracotta.


The Romans also had an advanced sewer system that carried wastewater out of the city and into nearby rivers. They even had public toilets, which were connected to the sewer system.


In conclusion, while the Indus Valley Civilization may have been the first to invent plumbing, it was Ancient Rome that perfected it. Both civilizations recognized the importance of clean water and sanitation and developed sophisticated systems to ensure that their citizens had access to both. Today, we continue to rely on these ancient innovations in plumbing as we strive to provide clean water and sanitation for all.