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By Charlie and Amelia
Roman people didn’t usually have hot baths in their houses because they either couldn’t heat the baths or didn’t have space to accommodate them. Instead they went to the public baths. The public baths were extremely popular. Roman people tried to visit the baths at least once every day.
Every town had its own bath complex (like a large swimming pool). There were 170 in Rome during Augustus’ reign and it had then increased to over 900 by 300 A.D. The baths weren’t just used for cleansing they were also used for entertainment and socialising. Larger baths had restaurants, games rooms, snack bars and libraries.
The baths were very luxurious, the average bathhouse would have high vaulted ceilings, mirrors covering the walls, the ceilings were buried in glass and the pools were lined with rich marble and complicated mosaics covered the floors. They also had classical columns and arches.
Men and women bathed separately some smaller baths would have shifts for each gender but the larger baths had duplicate facilities. Children weren’t allowed to use the baths and neither were slaves but sometimes the slaves were taken along with their masters to help them and look after the belongings. Small baths held about 300 people but the big ones held 1500 people or more!
2 The Terrace
3 Sacred Spring
5 People of Aquae Sulis
6 Temple Courtyard and Minerva
7 Objects from the Spring
8 The Spring Overflow
9 Great Bath
10 Changing Rooms and Saunas
11 Heated Rooms & Plunge Pools
12 The Shop
Typical Trip to the Baths
Around two in the afternoon Caecilius and his friends would make their way to the baths. At one of the entrances he would pay a small fee to the doorkeeper and then make his way through to the palestra. This is an open space surrounded by a colonnade .
Here he spends a little time greeting his friends and take part in popular activities which include throwing balls to each other, wrestling , and fencing with wooden swords. These games were not taken to seriously but were a present preparation for the bath that followed.
From the palestra Caecilius and his friends walk along a passage into a large hall. Known as the apodyterium.
Here they undress and hand their clothes to one of the slave attendants who places them in recesses arranged in rows along the wall.
Leaving the apodyterium they pass through an arched doorway into the tepidarium and spend a little time sitting on benches round the wall in a warm, steamy atmosphere, perspiring gently and preparing for the higher temperatures in the next room.
This is the caldarium. At one end of the caldarium there was a large marble bath, rectangular in shape, and stretched across the full width of the room. This bath was filled with hot water in which that bathers sat or wallowed . The Romans did not have soap , but used olive oil instead
After soaking in the bath, Caecilius summons a slave to rub him down with the oil that he has brought with him in a little pot. Fro this rubbing down , caecilius lies on a marble slab while the slave works the oil into his skin and muscle. It then gets removed using a strigil. Refreshed by this treatment, Ceacilius then goes to a large stone basin at the other end of the caldarium for a rinse down with cold water.
Before dressing again he might well visit the frigarium and there take a opluinge in a deep circular pool of unheated water, followed by a brisk rub down with his towel. Cealiclius’ visit to the baths was a leasurly social occasion . He enjoyed a noisy, relaxed time in the company of ghis friends
The roman writer senaca lived uncorfortably close to a asset of baths in rome and his description gives us a vivid impression of the atmosphere there:
“ I am surrounded by uproar. I live over a set of baths. Just imagine the babel of sounds that strikes my ears. When the athletic gentlemen below are exercising themselves, lifting lead weights, I can hear their grunts. I can hear the whistling of their breath as it escapes from their lungs. I can hear somebody enjoying a cheap rub down and the smack of a masseurs hands on his shoulders. If his hand comes down flat it makes one noise; If it comes down hollowed it makes another.
Add to this noise a brawler or a thief being arrested down below, the racket made by a man who likes to sing in his bath or the sound of enthusiast who hurl themselves into the water with a tremendous splash. Next I can hear the screech of the hair-plucker; who advertises himself by shouting. He is never quiet except when he is plucker hair and making his victims shouting instead. Finally, just imagine the cries of the cake seller, the sausage man, and the other food sellers as they advertise their goods round the bath, all adding to the din
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