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The Development of External Sanitary Facilities Aboard Ships of the Fifteenth to Nineteenth Centuries

Joe John Simmons
Thesis: December 1985
Chair: Bass
Nautical Archaeology Program

This thesis examines the appearance and development of sears-of-ease, roundhouses, pissdales, quarter galleries, and other shipboard structures which served as hygienic accommodations designed to facilitate the disposal of human waste from European ships of the 15th through the 19th centuries A.D. Almost without exception, the subject has been ignored, overlooked, or simply not mentioned or depicted due to modesty and/or societal and cultural mores, but it was certainly dealt with whenever and wherever men took to the sea.

Prominent external waste-disposal features made possible by specific changes in European hull design and construction prior to and during the period in question have been examined in contemporary depictions, models, and descriptions and the historical literature. By the last quarter of the 17th century, these features were fully developed and were retained with little or no modification until the end of the 19th century.

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