History of the Development of Public Baths

History. Archaeologists have found the remains of baths in the ruins of many ancient civilizations, including those of Babylon and Egypt. The ruins of public baths believed to be about 4,500 years old were discovered at Mohenjo-Daro (also spelled Moen jo Daro), near Larkana, Pakistan (see Indus Valley civilization [picture]).

Bathing devices of the 1800's included a metal bathtub, left, and a hand shower, right A lever on the shower pumped water on the bather from above and moved a back-washing brush

In ancient Rome, only the wealthy could afford private bathrooms. But the Romans built public baths in nearly every city of the empire. The bathhouses had facilities for warm and cold baths, steam baths, and massages. By the 20's B.C., they had become social gathering places with marble floors and columns, painted ceilings, statues, gardens, gymnasiums, libraries, meeting halls, and theaters. The Baths of Caracalla in Rome, built in the early A.D. 200's, could hold 1,600 bathers at a time.

Public bathhouses were common in ancient Rome because only the wealthy could afford private bathrooms. A typical public bathhouse in the Roman Empire, left, had various rooms for warm and cold baths, steam baths, and massages. The Baths of Caracalla in Rome, built in the early A.D. 200's, could hold as many as 1,600 bathers

During the Middle Ages in Europe, bathing declined in popularity. Public bathhouses were called stews, and bathing was called stewing because bathers sat in hot water. By the 1400's, public baths had become centers for prostitution, the performance of sexual acts for payment. The word stew came to mean a house of prostitution. As a result, church and government officials passed laws forbidding public bathing. People seldom bathed at home either. They used paint and powder to hide dirt, and perfume to mask body odor.

The Puritans, a group of English Protestants who founded the New England Colonies, disapproved of bathing. They believed that nakedness, even to take a bath, led to sinful behavior.

However, bathing gained popularity in the United States during the late 1700's and early 1800's. The American statesman Benjamin Franklin brought a tub called a slipper bath from Europe to the United States. This tub was shaped like a slipper and hid the bather's body from view.

During the 1800's, most American homes did not have running water or bathrooms. Many families kept a bathtub in the bedroom and filled it by hand. People also began using hand-powered showers. The bather sat on a stool and worked a hand lever or foot pedal that pumped water on the head.

In 1855, the American millionaire George Vanderbilt acquired what was probably the first modern bathroom. But home bathing facilities remained a luxury until the 1900's. Modern bathtubs, with built-in faucets and protective surfaces of enameled porcelain, began to be mass-produced about 1920. Today, most U.S. homes have bathroom facilities, including a bathtub, shower, and sink.


Date added: 2022-12-12; views: 333;

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