Dung Carter
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Basic Information

A dung carter is a particular kind of carter, specializing in the acquisition and transportation of dung or feces. "Carter" is an archaic term more modernly referred to as a teamster, referring to teams of horses used in transportation[1]. From this we can surmise that a dung carter maybe have been skilled in using draft animals, such as oxen, horses, or mules, in the course of their work. Barring that, A dung carter most likely had to shovel the dung onto a two-wheeled hand-held cart or a wheel barrow for transportation.

Different kinds of dung needed transportation.

  1. Animal manure - from inside barns, in and around houses, and off the streets. Agricultural use [2].
  2. Dog and pigeon dung was collected for use in tanning hides (see also leatherworker). This was sometimes a job for young children [3].
  3. Human feces, collected in cesspits and privies, regularly needed to be dug out and transported to the edge of town or spread on common land. Men who did this were sometimes called Gong farmers or nightmen[4].

We can reasonably assume that the dung carter would be a primarily urban occupation - rural dung was likely collected and composted locally on a dung heap attached to the property on which it was generated, whereas urban dwellers presumably needed their waste removed. Also, dog and pigeon droppings are unlikely to require a cart to move them about, leaving the dung carters to work on human waste, plus that of urban animal pens. Particularly well kept cities (or parts of cities) might also have the generalised filth scraped from the streets and removed - a task likely to be almost indistinguishable from dung carting.


Game and Story Use

  • There's always a need for adventuring parties to take pity on someone… why not the dung carter? This is certainly a low tier job … although likely a little above the luckless individuals that actually scrape up the dung if he has his own cart. Where a caste system exists, these people will be at the bottom.
    • In some cultures, this may be a job for public slaves.
  • A dung cart is a reasonably good place to hide something - only the most assiduous guards are likely to search a big pile of shit with any rigour.
  • How much dung can you get onto a cart? A shitload. ;-)
  • Potentially a dangerous profession in a setting with large and aggressive decomposers, such as Fungus Humongous, mobile plants, or otyughs.
  • In alternative settings, dung may be hauled by water - "honey boats" were a frequent, if somewhat less than picturesque encounter on the rivers of China, hauling urban sewage out to the countryside for use as fertilizer. Presumably any culture with significant waterway access will do the same - the nightsoil men of Venice for example, almost certainly did (and maybe still do - can you imagine laying sewers in that lot?) a lot of their work by water (assuming sewage isn't discharged straight to the canals, which surely must have been banned at some point).
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