sewage of minas tirith

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Lord Ishan 23/Nov/2005 at 03:14 AM
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i really wonder , how the sewage system of minas tirith worked. where was it dumped and how were the pipes laid out. think of the sewage coming from the steward’s palace on top of the mountain. was the waste dumped into the river or was it spread on the fields of pelennor as manure.
Dashūr 23/Nov/2005 at 03:30 AM
Warlord of Mordor Points: 10045 Posts: 5507 Joined: 05/Sep/2005
Hmm, I don’t think that is a question we will be able to answer in full. There’s a similar thread on the Plaza at the moment that is trying to cover this topic: http://www.lotrplaza.com/forum/display_topic_threads.asp?ForumID=24&TopicID=191213&PagePosition=1
An Capall Dubh 23/Nov/2005 at 06:13 AM
Counsellor of the Mark Points: 14393 Posts: 15093 Joined: 12/Jan/2004
I can’t recall any notes from the Master regarding a sewage system in Minas Tirith.It’s one of the details which doesn’t have a major effect on the story,therefore I believe that it wasn’t mentioned.The thread mentioned by Morgoth is worth reading,it’s quite funny at times.
Rohanya 23/Nov/2005 at 06:13 AM
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Lord Ishan, if the Middle Ages in Earth History are anything to go on, I doubt conditions would be supremely sanitary. I remember seeing in the movie (an excellent one, based on the best-selling book by Umberto Eco),
The Name of the Rose, things just dumped out a sidedoor, and down the mountainside it went (it being a monastery), though with peasants living not far away, also below.

I doubt pipes existed, though they were at times found in older cultures, such as India’s Mohenjo Daro, if I recall correctly. The Romans also seemed to have used them in their cities.

Probably peasants living in the nearby areas in Gondor used them for their fields. However, I am no farmer.

Tar Zeratul 23/Nov/2005 at 10:58 AM
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Hmm... it occured to me that most trash can be burnt, and nearly all the trash in M-e would have been able to be burnt safely. (and regarding the ashes and the unburnables... perhaps they would go down with the sewage!) Still, trash bins I bet they would have had. No reason for them not to, and they are convenient.

When you bring up the question of sewage... in the country that’s no problem, ya just have latrines. But in big cities? *whistles* Problem. They may have had sewers, but... gosh I would hate to have been the engineer to design that system, to say the least, and it seems to demand some source of water, which brings up... how they managed water delivery. Particularly thinking of MT, there can’t have been wells up on the higher levels, and unless there were springs or streams accessible from up higher than the city in the mountains, there would have been no way to get water to the upper levels without carting it up.

And I really wanna know if they had TP. In places where latrines were in use, it seems leaves would be plentiful, but... uh... you see where I’m going with this?
Atanvarnė 23/Nov/2005 at 03:10 PM
Hasty Ent of Fangorn Points: 2222 Posts: 2225 Joined: 23/Nov/2005
Goodness! It would be really difficult to take care of sewage in a place like Minas Tirith. A strange idea, but maybe they just carted sewage out into the country to use as, perhaps fertilizer of a sort, and then carted water back in. Somehow I don’t remember hearing about this in anything I’ve read and I’m sure I’d remember it if I had!
ElendilTheFair 23/Nov/2005 at 04:14 PM
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In the Midieval Europe, I believe that the garbage (bedpans included) were emptied out the windows into the streets.  This filth would accumulate in the streets, especially in the gutters.  I don’t recall any removal systems in place after this point (aside from a good rainstorm of course), but I may be incorrect.

However, Minas Tirith doesn’t seem to have this problem, as such garbage in the streets would likely have been included in Tolkien’s descriptions of the glorious, but fading, city.  If this was the case, I sincerly doubt that it would have been referred to as the White City.  So begs the question, how would such a large city, lacking modern technology, dispose of garbage in general?  Might there have been cart circulating the city to take garbage out of the city?  *laughs thinking about a man walking through the streets calling "bring out your dead.  Bring out your dead."

Bjorn 23/Nov/2005 at 05:59 PM
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Gondor (at least to me) seems a mirror to the Glorious Roman Empire, thereby revealing the unofficial fact that Minas Tirith had some sort of sewage system that would be emptied in some fill or cesshole(as was done in medieval times), removed from civilisation of course

lotrbigdog 23/Nov/2005 at 07:31 PM
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unless they had separate bathroom facilities put at different places throughout the city, or maybe hidden in the mountains behind?  that would be rather unfortunate for those dwelling on the first couple of levels of the city, having to walk all the way up the city to empty a bladder or allow their bowels to move! 

I think that there were definitely public bathroom facilities spread throughout the city, put in plaecs of both convenience for the people and also having a way to transport the waste away.  lets just suppose that since were talking about gondor, the greatest kingdom of men in ME, they would have thought of this particular problem and would have addressed in a manner both efficient and sanitary.

lebanin 23/Nov/2005 at 10:11 PM
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it never mentions a sewer in the movie they escape through the sewer but in the book they dont even go to minas tirith
lotrbigdog 24/Nov/2005 at 01:21 PM
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they dont go to minas tirith in the movie, either, if youre talking about frodo and sam.  The farthest west they make it is osgiliath.  and yea, they had sewers in osgiliath, in the movies, though they dont mention them in the book.
Durin of Moria 27/Nov/2006 at 06:18 PM
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ink they just release into the river or pile them up. I don’t think people in the past burn their rubbish and waste.
Ankala Teaweed 27/Nov/2006 at 07:20 PM
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It is a curious thing to ponder, and not something most authors will spend any time describing.

It may be as Rohanya posits, along the lines of medieval Europe. One might not want to go swimming in the Anduin, below the City?

Deviant Shadow 27/Nov/2006 at 09:57 PM
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Well since Minas Tirith was not a level city, that is to say, not on flat land, there would have been no need for a pumping system of any sort.There were possibly open drains connecting each house to the main sewage lines through the city.The sewage lines probably joined up with one another as the sewage was driven by gravity and finally opened out beneath the city.
Hithleen Eltoran 28/Nov/2006 at 03:42 AM
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Surely the Valar, probably Aule, would have taught the elves to build "facilities".  The elves that then came to Middle Earth would have passed on the technology, Men took the info to Numenor and then brought it back to ME, so there had to be some kind of system to take care of waste!  However, those nasty orcses.....

Deagol77 29/Nov/2006 at 10:01 PM
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People probably just pooped in buckets and tossed it out the window, like actual people did in the middle ages. They probably didn’t have a great sewer system. It would be hilarious, like when Gandalf and Pippin were riding through Minas Tirith for someone to dump some dookie on their heads.
samissupercool 02/Dec/2006 at 07:00 AM
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hmmm yes it does seem likely to be the actual medieval way of.. disposing of waste
but still, its not something you’d expect tolkein to talk about really, is it?
Arvellas 03/Dec/2006 at 11:07 AM
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Deagol-What can I say other than "ick"?

I’d suppose it would be the same as it was in the ancient and medieval times in this world, that is, you’d either throw it out the window or have some drainage system take it to a river or to some field, etc. removed from living areas and crops. (Cause if you let it get into the crops, you can get pretty sick from eating the food that is grown there.)  I would assume that Minas Tirith would have drainage systems, otherwise it would just pile up in the circles of the city and get pretty hard not to notice.  Where the drainage system took it, I’m not keen to think about.

Nav 03/Dec/2006 at 09:00 PM
Weathered Ent of Fangorn Points: 5671 Posts: 6218 Joined: 10/Dec/2005
I’m posting in a Lore forum. Take note, folks.  
Wasn’t the place where the Orcs blew a hole in the wall a sewage drain, or was that just in the movies?
elendil elessar 04/Dec/2006 at 06:33 AM
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Nope The Nav, maybe you shouldn’t post in the lore fora?
It was in Helms deep I believe and it was for the water to get out of the wall, for there was a small river or some such.
I don’t see why they wouldn’t be a sewer system, I mean Rome had one and was far less old than Minas Tirith, also MT was build by a people at the height of their skills and technologies.
My vote definetly goes for sewage.
Qtpie 04/Dec/2006 at 06:09 PM
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The Nav: That was the culvert they blew up.

’Devilry of Saruman!’ cried Aragorn. ’They have crept up in the culvert again,while we talked, and they have lit the fire of Orthanc beneath our feet.’ The Two Towers: Helm’s Deep
Novgwath 10/Dec/2006 at 04:09 PM
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If the film portrayal is accurate in certain parts, then we are given a glimpse of what appears to be a sewer beneath Osgiliath, which Frodo, Sam and Gollum use in their escape from the city. This obviously means that the Gondorians had the technology to build sewers. However i am unsure whether it is an actual sewer or a system of pipes to control an overflow if the River ever burst its banks. I would imagine there is some sort of sewage system...mebbe there’s a giant cave beneath the city where all the waste drops!
Winter is Coming 10/Dec/2006 at 04:13 PM
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Elendil - Rome may have had a sewer system but it was an open one and certainly not sewers as we imagine them to be. MT may have had a system similar to the one in Rome, but it wasn’t as hygenic and spectacular as some people think it is.