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Aelyn
04-07-2011, 11:51 AM
Since there are so many threads on castles, churches and temples, I thought I might go for something new this time. So I annoyed some professors, watched a lot of lecture podcasts and read some books about Roman architecture to come up with a fresh idea, and I figured out that public baths or thermae were the place to be in ancient times. Then why not make a bath?

This is what I have so far, it's called The Thermae of Elysia and is situated in the North-Western part of the city of Rhadamantys (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?13959-Rhadamantys-The-Old-City-and-the-Sea). I considered doing this in Illustrator, but since my abilities with the prog are very poor, I chose to go for good old PS. I hope this doesn't show too much.

34915

By the way, my sources were the Baths of Diocletian, Nero and Caracalla, although I also took some minor elements from Arabic/Turkish baths. Don't be confused by the amount of rooms, I'll prepare another version with labels and perhaps colours showing the different parts of the bath.

And please, feel free to comment :)

mearrin69
04-07-2011, 01:33 PM
I like it! Been doing some Roman-ish stuff for a client so it's neat to see this.
M

Ascension
04-07-2011, 05:22 PM
I truly dig it...I get tired of castles and inns myself. Plus, I find that the most interesting conversations happen when people are semi-clothed. I mean, so I've heard. Anyway, looking forward to the labels.

jtougas
04-07-2011, 05:27 PM
Very Nice. I think every city needs a few bath houses...now THAT gives me an idea... :)

Aelyn
04-08-2011, 06:09 AM
Thank you for the kind words. It would be interesting to see what baths you come up with! Could be a nice idea for a light challenge, maybe... but on the other hand it takes quite a lot of reading to get all the rooms in the right position and know which rooms are necessary and so on....

Anyway, in Order to make things a bit clearer, here's a version with labels.

34941

I used colours to denote the different parts of the actual bath, namely the women's (red) and men's (blue) bath on the wings and the main bath (violet), which opens for females in the morning and men in the afternoon. The letters show you the purpose of each room, big letters indicating the most important parts:

F = Frigidarium, the cold bath
T = Tepidarium, the warm bath
C = Caldarium, the hot bath
S = Sudatorium, the steam bath
P = Palaestra, the garden
D = Destrictarium, the spa
N = Natatio, the pool
A = Apodyterium, the dressing room
E = the entrance ;)

Small letters point to staff rooms, Roman numbers to other public non-bath rooms such as meeting halls or latrines.

anstett
04-08-2011, 12:19 PM
Excellent maps, thank you for sharing off to plop it down in the city now.

BOB

Larb
04-09-2011, 07:58 AM
Looks great! Nice to see public facilities getting a little love. So how often to they change the bathwater? =P

Ghostman
04-09-2011, 08:48 AM
AFAIK at least the later Roman bath facilities were supplied directly from the aqueducts, which meant that there would have been a constant flow of water into (and logically, out of) the pools - for despite all their engineering skills, the Romans' plumbing technology lacked valves; it was infact impossible to stop the water running.

Larb
04-09-2011, 09:35 AM
Actually, though water supply was an always on system, the bathing pools didn't have a constant current flowing through them. They were filled and emptied periodically. In the busier, more popular ones open all hours, "periodically" grew into "every week or two" so they became a breeding ground for bacteria. There are records for some people going there with say, a small cut on their leg and such and then dying from infection a few weeks later.

Aelyn
04-09-2011, 09:46 AM
As I learned from the book about Roman baths that I read, aquaeduct water was split into three different "channels" when arriving at a city, one of them being public baths and wells (opera publica). It seems that baths had cisterns and a pipe system that reached all the warm&cold baths, the natatio and the loo. Running water was a desirable thing in later Roman times, but not always the case. Unfortunately the book doesn't tell me how often they changed the water, but I guess it is also a question of prestige: if you're the building owner and people die from your polluted water, it will have a negative effect on your reputation, won't it?

Larb
04-09-2011, 11:06 AM
Assuming people make the connection between unclean/unchanged water and the infection. People in general didn't have the same kind of understanding of disease back then (or until the 20th century really) and very few people would consider the possibility (The account I read about comes from someone who did). They would just blame it on the gods or something. I mean it's bathwater, surely it's fine. I'm not getting sick. And no one is dying in that other public bath a few blocks over. And he didn't get really sick until a few days later anyway so it can't be the baths. Obviously he angered one of the gods with his unvirtuous behaviour. =P

anstett
04-09-2011, 11:49 AM
What have the Romans ever done for us, besides the aqueducts, the roads, the public education.....

Gamerprinter
04-09-2011, 01:20 PM
Are public bath's the hotbed for disease? I'm not sure of the proper bathing procedure in a Roman Bath, but have to consider that Turkish bath's still exist and public bath's in Japan, today, are still very common.

In Japan, one bathes in a shower area before you enter the tub and it is common practice if you are openly cut someplace, you don't use the public bath. The hot bath is a place to relax and soak up the heat in your body. You don't literally wash yourself in the hot tub area

Since public bath's are still common around the world, I don't think pubic baths are the hotbed of disease you are suggesting, Larb.

GP

Aelyn
04-09-2011, 02:07 PM
Both of you might have a point. Still I think that if you pay a lot of money to go to a magnificent bath house rather then the shabby small one just 'round the corner, you would expect the water to be at least fresh-looking/smelling, wouldn't you?
I think dirty water just wouldn't fit my idea of these thermae. So I simply dictate that at least my great public bath is no major health risk to its visitors. :) Problem solved!

Gamerprinter
04-09-2011, 02:30 PM
When visiting relatives in Japan, I've used a public bath in a major hotel, a small one in Osaka, since my relatives there didn't even have their own bath. I also went to a public hot spring bath. My grandmother (on my Dad's side - not Japanese) went to Japan at 75 years old and was asked to take a public bath, which she was very leary of exposing herself naked in public (she is a very heavy set woman). Once she was finally talked into it, she loved it. Then in the next town they were visiting, she discovered the public bath and went off trotting to it, without a worry.

While unusual compared to America, where there is no such thing as a public bath - at least outside of ethnic neighborhood in large cities, I have no apprehension of using one, or fearing of getting diseased bathing in one.

Larb
04-09-2011, 05:19 PM
You can't really compare any sort of modern public bath to an ancient one. Today we have clean running water, chlorine and other chemicals to add to water and an excellent understanding of infection and disease so I've no fear of using a modern one either. Not changing the water for days and days on end would be unthinkable. As would bathing with sick people (who also used public roman baths) and walking through the skin scrapings of other patrons who had just cleaned their skin with olive oil and a strigil. I'm not saying every public bathhouse in Rome was like that, but some have been described by folk at the time as such.

Gamerprinter
04-09-2011, 05:33 PM
I'm pretty sure that both Roman baths and old Japanese baths were the same. Water was changed frequently. And as stated cleansing oneself before one got in the tub is standard practice with all public baths. I'm not saying the old bath houses were as anticeptic as today, still an idea of clean water was a part of what made public baths safe even in ancient times. Roman baths had a constant influx of water through aqueducts and release of dirty water, even 2000 years ago. Its like saying a public pool is unsafe for the same reasons. I've never heard the rumor that the public bath was the source of spreading disease in any accounts from the days of the Black Plague. Sex was the primary cornerstone of disease spreading then as now, in fact there existed a Syphilis plague that killed more Europeans than any single black plague incident.

I'm just saying public bath's were NOT the places of filth that you suggest. I've never read an account that suggested that was the case.

Ghostman
04-09-2011, 06:46 PM
Are public bath's the hotbed for disease? I'm not sure of the proper bathing procedure in a Roman Bath, but have to consider that Turkish bath's still exist and public bath's in Japan, today, are still very common.
There was no standard plan to ancient bathhouses, and many of the ruins preserved to this day appear to have been modified after their initial construction. And while the large imperial baths in Rome are laid on symmetrical plans, asymmetric bathhouses might actually have been more common. On the subject of bathing procedure, I quote Peter Connolly:



"Roman bath buildings may vary in detail, but they have a number of characteristic features in common. They are all planned so as to allow logical progression from one room to another. [...] From [the palaestra] he would progress to the tepidarium, perhaps via the frigidarium, and then go on to the caldarium. After some time sitting in the steam and immersing himself in the hot-water plunge pools, he would scrape off the oil, along with the dirt and dead skin, using a metal implement called a strigil. [...] He would then make his way back to the frigidarium and the natatio, where he might take a cold plunge."
- Peter Connolly: The Ancient City, pages 245 & 247

According to the book, there were 856 small baths and 11 large imperial ones in the city of Rome alone, by the early 5th century. Needless to say, most of these baths have not been preserved to this day, and much of what is left for modern archaeologists to study is on the bigger facilities. I also wonder if there might exist a connection between Turkish and Roman baths; the Turks were originally a nomadic people who used to live in tents before they conquered and settled into the area of modern Turkey, which had been part of the Eastern Roman Empire for a millennium or so.


I'm not saying every public bathhouse in Rome was like that, but some have been described by folk at the time as such.
This interests me. Any chance for translations of such descriptions being found online?

Aelyn
04-10-2011, 09:19 AM
I also wonder if there might exist a connection between Turkish and Roman baths; the Turks were originally a nomadic people who used to live in tents before they conquered and settled into the area of modern Turkey, which had been part of the Eastern Roman Empire for a millennium or so.

The book I read has a chapter on Turkish baths, stating that they were highly influenced by Roman bath architecture and are the most faithful accounts still preserved today of what going to a Roman bath might have been like. It says that they were so important because washing has a religious meaning in Islam. It names a bath in Bursa (called Incirli Hamam) as a very good example of Roman ideas meeting Turkish standards.


This interests me. Any chance for translations of such descriptions being found online?

I have found some interesting quotes, this one being from Seneca himself (I'll quickly translate it, please forgive any mistakes):

But once, there were only few baths, and they were very plain. Why put any decorations into something that cost only 1/4 As and was for necessity, not for enjoyment? Water wasn't refilled, and it didn't flow freshly as if it came from a hot spring. Nobody cared how clear and clean the water was.
So it seems that by the time of Seneca, fresh water was constantly flowing through the tubs and that they were well aware of the need of having clean water. I also find very complex descriptions from a man called Papinius Statius about the marbles used in a public bath and how exquisite they were.

Ghostman
04-10-2011, 09:28 AM
Thank you for that snippet Aelyn!

Ryan K
04-10-2011, 06:17 PM
Assuming people make the connection between unclean/unchanged water and the infection. People in general didn't have the same kind of understanding of disease back then (or until the 20th century really) and very few people would consider the possibility (The account I read about comes from someone who did). They would just blame it on the gods or something. I mean it's bathwater, surely it's fine. I'm not getting sick. And no one is dying in that other public bath a few blocks over. And he didn't get really sick until a few days later anyway so it can't be the baths. Obviously he angered one of the gods with his unvirtuous behaviour. =P

True to a point, but in ancient and medieval times, water in general was seen as unclean, especially for consumption. There was a general preference for fermented beverages such as wine and beer. These beverages weren't nearly as alcoholic as what we consume today (unless you're an upper-class toff), but especially in the case of some forms of wine they were indeed a good source of electrolytes and energy. People just didn't get down with drinking water until there was a reliable way of drinking it without getting some manky disease. People have long learned that water from untrustworthy sources can make you sick, and sought fluid intake elsewhere. It wasn't borne from an understanding of diseases, viruses, bacteria, but from experience. Nowadays, we just take it for granted.

The same was true with most bathhouses. People just figured out that oft-changed heated water didn't kill off the clientele as often as unchanged, tepid water, even if they didn't figure it out overnight.

Never minding the fact that nowadays that we tend to disrespect the medical knowledge of yesteryear, with our misunderstanding stemming from those blasted Victorians and other idiot self-promoters from the late-rennaissance, early-modern period. Medical cures didn't begin and end with leaches and blood-letting :)