For those of us who paint, the sight of a sponge on a stick might indicate an implement to apply paint! But the object might even be useful as a back scrubber during a bath or shower.
However, my curious inset of thesponge stick into the latrine picture probably gave it away what it might be used for… And you’re right!
The otherwise harmless looking sea sponge on a stick draws looks of horror upon people’s faces when they learn that they were used for cleaning bottoms at latrines.
The Romans left behind a lot of latrines wherever they built structures during their campaigns, including this one in Ephesus in Turkey.
Consider the design of the Roman outdoor toilet. See how the aperture extends so that you can see it from the front? Well that’s precisely where you would insert the bottom sponge stick to get a thorough cleaning…
Now look at the depression in the area at the foot of the latrines – that’s where the water would be flowing to rinse out the sponge to repeat the cleaning or to leave the sponge stick for the next person to use!
The water may have carried “debris” from others as well… And that my friends is how the Roman spongia, or bottom-wiper was used. Any takers?