Where did the word “plumber” come from?

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Origins of the word "Plumber"
Origins of the word “Plumber”

Where did the word “Plumber” come from?

You ever said a normal word and it just sounds sort of strange and different? You begin to question, “How did that word come about?” Take the word, “Plumber”, it’s origins may surprise you.

Roman Lead Pipe
Roman Lead Pipe

The word “plumber” dates all the way back to the Roman Empire! It is based on the Latin word for “lead”, which is “plumbum.” What is the connection between lead and plumbers? In the Roman era, skilled workers who dealt with drain pipelines and constructing the baths that civilization enjoyed, dealt with lead or “plumbum”. Therefore, they were considered professionals with lead were called “Plumbarius”. This progressed into the terms we know today: “plumbing professionals” and “plumbing.”

The Romans were really rather advanced in their plumbing systems, having aqueducts, underground drains, public baths, bronze and lead piping systems, and even marble components. Around 52 A.D., Rome boasted an estimated 220 miles of aqueducts, pipes and water channels used to supply baths, houses and public wells/water sources. The water channels were powered by gravity and carried 300 gallons of fresh water for Rome’s inhabitants.

However wait, lead may be flexible and easy to bend for usage in pipes, however it’s dangerous to consume correct? Why didn’t lead poisoning eliminate all the Romans? Well, in spite of the Romans’ typical use of lead pipes, their aqueducts seldom poisoned individuals. Unlike other parts of the world where lead pipelines do trigger poisoning, the Roman water had a lot calcium in it that a layer of plaque prevented the water touching and contaminating by the lead itself.

Going back even farther in plumbing history, however, archaeologists discovered the first water pipes in the Indus River in India, going back to 4000-3000 B.C. Another ancient contribution to modern plumbing is from Egyptian ruler Menes who engineered a thriving civilization by constructing canals, watering ditches and basins at about the same period as the plumbing system in India.

Between 1500 and 1000 B.C., under the reign of King Minos, the people of Crete developed intricate sewage disposal and drainage systems with underground channels. Throughout the exact same duration, the very first flushing toilet was invented, complete with a wooden seat. Archeologists have also discovered a bathtub looking like cast-iron ones from the late 19th century in America. And in 710 B.C., Sargon the Great, an Assyrian king, created the first shower by having slaves on ladders drip water over him while he washed himself.

Next time you’re looking for an excellent conversation-starter, look no farther than the origins of the word “plumber.” And if you need a plumber, we’re only a telephone call away!

South End Plumbing specializes in all plumbing services, so remember, we are just a click away. We also specialize in video sewer line inspection – give us a call! South End Plumbing is one of the only companies that will give you a free estimate. Call us at 704-919-1722 or fill out the form online to schedule a visit.

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