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This study begins by examining the archaeological and documentary evidence for lavatories (toilets) and foul-water drains in ancient Mesopotamian dwelling houses. It goes on to investigate the use, etymology and history of the Akkadian word asurrû: in the Old Babylonian period it served mainly as a term for a kind of foul-water drain or “sewer” but later shed that meaning.

Corresponding author
A.R. George, SOAS, University of London, Thornhaugh Street, London WC1H 0XG
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It is most felicitous that the publication of this article takes place in a volume of Iraq that honours Dominique Collon, from whom I learned much when we co-edited the journal for sixteen issues. I am pleased that she will find within a cylinder seal (Fig. 12), but regret that it will be disappointingly familiar. I am grateful to audiences at papers given between 1998 and 2003 in London, Cambridge and Heidelberg, and in 2014 in Oxford and Cambridge, for their guidance, help and suggestions in connection with the research that led to this article; and to Birger Helgestad for supplying Fig. 6.

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