Archaeologists digging around New York’s City Hall have uncovered a unique piece of feminine history– a douche contraption dating from the 19th century. The oblong tube, made from mammal bone, was one of several “vaginal syringes” uncovered in the excavation. The early form of feminine hygiene control was a taboo topic in 19th Century society, leaving little information for modern researchers to go on.

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The cylindrical tube was first unearthed during an excavation of a garbage pile near City Hall Park, which included items like liquor bottles, food waste and animal bones. Headed up by Chrysalis Archaeology, researchers on site hypothesized they were excavating a garbage dump from a celebratory event, which was further confused when they found the 19th Century douche.

According to Alyssa Loorya, president of Chrysalis Archaeology, the vaginal syringe dates from around 1803 to 1815, and was at first confused for some sort of spice grinder when it was initially found in 2010. But after several years of research by Lisa Geiger, the piece has been identified as a method for feminine hygiene. Geiger has found that women in the 19th Century would even use vaginal syringes as a form of contraception, flushing their vaginal canal with astringents made from minerals or tree roots after sex in an attempt to prevent pregnancy. Medical science at the time also believed douching could treat menstrual cramps and venereal diseases.

The team found another vaginal syringe on site, although not as well preserved as the original finding.

+ Chrysalis Archaeology

[Via DNA Info]