Tar Valon and White Tower Sanitation

Elucia Nileran

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As a civil engineering student, I can't help but think about how the White Tower and Tar Valon as a city manage their waste and water. It's mentioned a bit in the books when Elaida lets waste build up in the street. As for water, there is mention of washstands, cisterns, latrines, water being brought up for bathing, maybe bathhouses, and a tunnel that lets wastewater out of the tower. Is there a sewer system? I assume while reading these books that they have a Roman level of sanitation technology and road building in Tar Valon.
On a different track, if I were a brown sister in the white tower and I wanted cats, how do you handle animal waste? Verin Sedai has an owl and in the description of her study, it is mentioned it is extremely dusty. I would assume Verin is disposing of owl pellets by herself. I'm guessing she burns them in her own fireplace so that she doesn't set books on fire.
Also, how do they vent hearth smoke from all those hearths?
 

Alexr al'Petros

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I think considering Roman sanitation systems is pretty smart. I'm always amazed at how sophisticated it was. As for the smoke vent, I'd imagine a system similar to those used in medieval monasteries and cathedrals.
 
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However animal waste is taken care of would have to be entirely separate from how the human waste is taken care of. The bacteria in animal waste is hazardous and you're not meant to flush it down the toilet. That aside, we also have several mentions of chamber pots and if Elaida is allowing waste to gather in the streets then I assume in that case people are just throwing it out the window and letting other animals like horses just poop in the street
 

Satara al'Caelahn

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I'm sure that for some forms of animal waste, they could sell it (or just give it?) to surrounding farms as fertilizer, especially horse manure which is notoriously good for gardens.
 

Cattrin al'Modrah

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I have a bit of background in archaeology and one of the things that chamber pot waste (whether human or animal) can be used for is a type of structure architecture called wattle and daub. This was super common in the Tudor period in English history. Basically, dung is mixed with hair and hay in order to create a type of plaster. Walls are constructed with a basket weaving technique, then the plaster mix is smeared on, polished up, and finally fancied up with a few layers of whitewash. Fun fact: Our modern drywall is derived from this technique.

For the smoke, I would imagine hypocaust flooring would be helpful for taking full advantage. Basically, it's a direct ancestor of our modern radiant floor heating. Ours is done with hot water in piping underneath floors; the Romans purposely built channels for smoke and heat to help warm their floors.

Otherwise I would agree with the Roman system of managing waste. Maybe a combination of Roman + Tudor England?

:cheeseeni:
 
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