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Flush toilets are less a modern convenience than many people think, having been around since ancient times and research on those old privies can tell a lot about people’s lives, according to a book published Monday by an archaeologist who specializes in lavatories.

The book, penned by Tadashi Kurosaki, a professor at the University of Toyama, highlights the latest research on toilet remains excavated around the country. It is titled “Suisen Toire wa Kodai ni mo Atta — Toire Kokogaku Nyumon” (“Flush Toilets Existed in Ancient Times — An Introduction to Toilet Archaeology”).

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