July 17, 2014

Ancient Bathing Techniques



 …(bath)tubs are “in” right now… A tub is about a rest, not a bath…Buyers want a deep, soaking tub that can provide a lot of relief after a long day of work…Yes, you need one … (However)Bathroom designers and installers insist it is better to concentrate on a dramatic shower in the master bath and move the tub to a secondary location. The shower has dramatic power for resale, but a tub has a role in reality…But not in the master bath.


One of the first known bathtubs comes from Minoan Crete that was found in the palace at Knossos and is dated about 1700 B.C.

The palace plumbing system had terra-cotta pipes that were jointed and cemented together and were tapered at one end to give water a shooting action to prevent the buildup of clogging sediment. Their technology put Minoans in the hydrological vanguard.


In Ancient Rome part of the bathing and personal hygiene routine in involved cleaning the body with oil. Having rubbed the oil in, a strigil was used to scrape away any excess as well as any dead skin and dirt. A small bronze bottle was used for the oil. The loop, known as an annulus, was moulded into the shape of a dog’s head.

At its peak of ablutive excess perhaps all of Rome indulged in their baths.

In the fourth century A.D., the city had eleven large and magnificent public bathhouses, more than 1,350 public fountains and cisterns, and many hundreds of private baths.

Roman bathtub

Roman bathtub

Served by thirteen aqueducts, Rome’s per-capita daily water consumption averaged about 300 gallons, nearly what an American family of four uses today. Rome’s obsession with bathing is said to be a factor that helped send the empire down the drain.

Roman baths usually opened at midday, just as sportsmen finished their games or exercises. Their bathing process was elaborate.

  1.  A bather first entered the “tepidarium”, a moderately warm room for sweating and lingering.
  2. a hotter room for greater sweating, or perhaps the ultrahot “laconicum”. In these the bather doused himself with copious quantities of warm, tepid, or cold water. He then scraped off with a strigil.
  3. Sponged and reanointed, the Roman concluded the process by plunging into the cool and refreshing pool of the “frigitarium”.


Athletes scraped their skin with strigils to remove dirt, dust and oil from their bodies after exercise. This was sometimes bottled and sold as a medical treatment called gloios to relieve aches, pains and sprainsBathing was not always as luxurious as sitting in a modern bathtub filled with warm water and myriads of soap bubbles.


The Greeks apparently prized cleanliness. Apparently lacking soap, the Greeks anointed their bodies with oil and ashes, then scrubbed with blocks of pumice or sand, and finally scraped themselves clean with a curved metal instrument called a “strigil”. Immersion in water and anointment with olive oil followed their ablutions.

Greek bathtub

Greek bathtub





Rewriting Song Lyrics



  1. I must say, your topics are many and most informative. I enjoy most of the posts that you send out. Thanks for enlightening my days.

    Comment by David Walker (URlite) — July 17, 2014 @ 8:51 am | Reply

    • You are welcome. Your comment shows what I am attempting to do—create interesting topics for all types of interests. LIke a magazine—read what you want, pass by what you aren’t interested in. Thank you and all the other persons who have subscribed. Carolyn

      Comment by carolyncholland — July 17, 2014 @ 9:28 am | Reply

  2. Carolyn, hello. I’m playing catch up…its amazing people’s practice of bathing.
    Even today, some people seem to have an aversion of water and soap. :~)

    Comment by merry101 — July 20, 2014 @ 9:24 pm | Reply

  3. […] ANCIENT BATHING TECHNIQUES  I must say, your topics are many and most informative.  I enjoy most of the posts that you send out.  Thanks for enlightening my days.   David […]

    Pingback by Out of the Old Blog, a New Magazine is Born | Carolyn's Online Magazine — January 14, 2015 @ 4:38 am | Reply

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