Weird Histories 4: The Story of Simeon's 5th Century Poo

The Story of Simeon's Poo

About this Weird Histories Series of Articles

An ad hoc series of short articles about weird stuff in history, relating to toilets. Amuse your children (and some adults) when you recount these articles AND teach them about history and other important matters while doing so.

Background to The Story of Simeon's Poo

For reasons which we won’t explore here in Syria in 422 AD a Christian man named Simeon went into the desert, climbed a ladder up the side of a forty-foot pillar and got of at the top, where he stayed on a small wooden platform for 37 years. You might think that was weird enough but read on to find that it gets even weirder.

Life on a pillar for 37 years

The man is now know as Simeon Stylites. While he was on his pillar in the desert for 37 years - Simeon was visited regularly by people for advice and to hear him preach. All his food and water, although probably only small portions, were sent up to Simeon on a tray on a rope. In return Simeon sent down his faeces (which is a posh word for poo). (I know what you’re thinking….YUK!)

What happened to Simeon’s poo?

What do you think happened to Simeon’s turds (a posh term for poos)? You wouldn’t be stupid if you supposed that the poos were buried in a pit or disposed of in another hygienic manner but you would be wrong.

The people who handled Simeon’s poo did something that is not normally done with poo and which we do not recommend. They used it much like you would plastersene or clay and modelled medallions out of it. These round flat discs were stamped (presumably while still moist) with names and dates and things you might find on any medals given for winning in sports.

Does any proof exist that this really happened to Simeon’s poo?

For irrefutable, tangible evidence that this weird thing happened you must visit the Dumbarton Oaks collection in Washington, USA. Why? Because Poo travels! The Washington collection houses a couple of original, authentic Simeon Stylites poo medallions.

Further Activities

Check out the story on line. Google “Simeon Stylites”

TIPS: Be prepared for some children to demand that you repeat this story time and time again. Don’t tell them in the first place to avoid this scenario.

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Comments 2 comments

Thimeon 6 years ago


Callum Wilson 4 years ago

Simeon Friis is game, add him on Facebook. He is also small

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