History: Roman Bath
Baths for bathing and relaxing became a common feature of Roman cities throughout the empire. Some of the huge bath complexes included a wide diversity of rooms offering different activities and temperatures such as swimming pools, places to read, relax, socialize and gather for a business matters. Roman baths, with their need for large open spaces, were also important drivers in the evolution of architecture offering the first dome structures in Classical architecture
- Apodyterium - changing rooms.
- Palaestrae - exercise rooms.
- Notatio - open-air swimming pool.
- Laconica and Sudatoria - superheated dry and wet sweating-rooms.
- Calidarium - hot room, heated and with a hot-water pool and a separate basin on a stand (labrum)
- Tepidarium - warm room, indirectly heated and with a tepid pool.
- Frigidarium - cool room, unheated and with a cold-water basin, often monumental in size and domed, it was the heart of the baths complex.
- Rooms for massage and other health treatments.
Additional facilities could include cold-water plunge baths, private baths, toilets, libraries, lecture halls, fountains, and outdoor gardens.
Walls could also provide heating with the insertion of hollow rectangular tubes (tubuli) which carried the hot air provided by the furnaces. In addition, special bricks (tegulae mammatae) had bosses at the corners of one side which trapped hot air and increased insulation against heat loss. The use of glass for windows from the 1st century CE also permitted a better regulation of temperatures and allowed the sun to add its own heat to the room.
The vast amount of water needed for the larger baths was supplied by purpose built aqueducts and regulated by huge reservoirs in the baths complex. The reservoir of the Baths of Diocletian in Rome, for example, could hold 20,000 m³ of water. Water was heated in large lead boilers fitted over the furnaces. The water could be added (via lead pipes) to the heated pools by using a bronze half-cylinder (testudo) connected to the boilers. Once released into the pool the hot water circulated by convection.pool and an unusual circular caldarium which reached the same height as Rome’s Pantheon and spanned 118 ft. (36 meters). The caldarium also had large glass windows to take advantage of the sun’s heat and further facilities included two libraries, a watermill, and even a waterfall.
The complex had four entrances and could have accommodated as many as 8,000 daily visitors. 6,300 m³ of marble and granite lined the walls, the ceiling was decorated with glass mosaic which reflected light from the pools in an iridescent effect, there was a pair of 19’-6” (6 m) long fountains, and the second floor provided a promenade terrace. Water was supplied by the aqua Nova Antoniniana and aqua Marcia aqueducts and local springs and stored in 18 cisterns. The baths were heated by 50 furnaces which burned ten tons of wood a day. Besides the imposing ruined walls, the site has many rooms which still contain their original marble mosaic flooring and large fragments also survive from the upper floors depicting fish scales and scenes of mythical sea creatures.
- 100 AD the large bath complexes of Timgad at Ephesos (Roman colonial town in the Aurès Mountains of Algeria)
- 104 AD Trajan’s Baths of Rome
- 137 AD the Bath of Lepcis Magna (Roman colonial town in currently Libya)
- 162 AD the Antonine Baths at Carthage (Roman colonial town in currently Tunisia)
- 305 AD the Baths of Diocletian in Rome