Excremental Space Structuration in 18th Century Lyon

By Olivier Zeller

Until the 18th century, excrement produced by the inhabitants of Lyon were either drawn out of the cesspits by the dirty work masters, who would discharge them in the rivers, or collected by peasants to be used as fertilizer. Sensibility to odours and the evolution of medical discourse created after 1750 new concerns for local ediles with the municipal authority basing their actions on the works produced by the Lyon Academy of Sciences. The result was a flowering of draining companies using improved techniques and continuous recycling, thus satisfying the needs of members of agricultural societies. The town then used several suburbs as storage areas, which produced a strong level of resistance.


  • Lyon
  • 18th century
  • edility
  • excremental draining
  • suburbs
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