BEIJING (Reuters) - China has flushed Britain's claims to have invented the water closet down the pan with the discovery of a 2,000-year-old toilet complete with running water, a stone seat and a comfortable armrest.
Archaeologists found the antique latrine in the tomb of a king of the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC to 24 AD), who believed his soul would need to enjoy human life after death, the official Xinhua news agency said on Wednesday.
"This top-grade stool is the earliest of its kind ever discovered in the world, meaning that the Chinese used the world's earliest water closet which is quite like what we are using today," Xinhua quoted the archaeologists' report as saying.
"It was a great invention and a symbol of social civilization of that time," Xinhua said.
The invention of the flush toilet is widely attributed to London plumber Thomas Crapper, who patented a U-bend siphoning system for flushing the pan in the late 19th century, and who also installed toilets for Queen Victoria.
Among other inventions claimed by China are toilet paper, fireworks, gunpowder, the compass, paper money, kites, printing and the clock.
The toilet tomb was discovered in Shangqiu county in the central province of Henan, Xinhua said.
Archaeologists also found a queen consort's stone tomb, more than 690 feet long and consisting of more than 30 rooms including a bathroom, toilet, kitchen and an ice-store.
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