The Bath in Greece in Classical Antiquity

Maria-Evdokia Wassenhoven


The present study evolved out of an attempt to explore the mechanisms involved in the transformation of a social practice and its spatial context from one cultural, technological and architectural system to another in a given geographical area in classical antiquity. The practice chosen was that of the bath, the two main and overlapping cultural traditions were the Greek and the Roman and the two technological traditions are termed in the present study ‘before’ and ‘after’ the hypocaust. The geographical area covered in the study is that of modern Greece with a more detailed analysis of the Peloponnese. Chapter 1 presents the descrAtion and classification of the different bathing traditions which appeared in the Greek territory before the 6th century BC, when the first relevant evidence becomes present in the archaeological record. The evolution of bath architecture in Italy, the main characteristics of the Roman bathing tradition, the spatial configuration of the bath in the Roman culture and finally the different kinds of typological classifications used by scholars are described in Chapter 2. In Chapter 3 the two basic bathing traditions which appear in Greece in classical antiquity are analyzed following the classification scheme which was described in the introductory chapter. The final chapter looks at the key issues of the Hellenization of the Roman bathing tradition, the Romanization of the bathing traditions of the Greek world and the long term evolution of the bath in antiquity are readdressed in the light of the present research.