Greek baths were bath complexes suitable for bathing and cleaning in ancient Greece, similar in concept to that of the Roman baths. Greek baths are a feature of some Hellenized countries. Greeks original form of bathing consisted of nothing more than a quick plunge into icy water until the people of Laconica came upon the idea of a hot-air bath. The hot-air bath later came to be known as a laconica bath. The people of Laconica were from the Sparta area. The water for the laconica bath was heated one of two different ways. The first being by direct coal burning fires and the other being the hot rock method, which consists of heating up rocks in another room and bringing them inside the bath. Greek baths can be found throughout the Mediterranean. They can also be found in other countries: Alexandria, Egypt and Syracuse, Italy for example. Using the Greek Baths in ancient Olympia as an example, a Greek bathhouse started off as nothing more than a single rectangular structure 20 meters long and four meters wide.
Edited by Sandra K. Peeters, Leuven ISBN paper. An updated study of Greek baths was sorely needed, and, although this book is not a monograph but a collection of essays generated by a conference held in , it goes a long way to filling that gap. Aside from the introduction 1—9 and a very useful catalogue of known Greek bath sites at the back, the 15 contributions can be grouped into four main categories. The first is eight field reports that document Greek baths newly discovered or currently under investigation. The third category comprises three papers—on the urban context of Greek baths, images of women bathing on Greek vases, and baths and bathing in Greek medicine—that add to the discussion about the role of baths and bathing in Greek culture, while the fourth and final category is represented by two papers addressing technical matters architecture and heating systems. The papers are thus varied and disparate, as can be expected from published conference proceedings, but all contribute in interesting ways to the field. Particularly welcome is the presentation of new archaeological evidence in a field where the entire corpus is restricted to 75 known sites 70 of which are catalogued at the back of this volume. Especially noteworthy in this connection are the recently excavated North Baths at Morgantina, described in detail by Lucore —79 and analyzed convincingly in relation to other Sicilian facilities at Gela, Syracuse, and Megara Hyblaea.
Ordinary Greeks bathed at home or in public baths characterized by circular chambers with hip-baths and rudimentary heating systems. Public bathing as a daily habit, a hygienic, medicinal, recreational, and luxurious experience belonged to the Romans. The origins of Roman baths can be traced in the simpler Greek baths and the bathing facilities of the Greek gymnasium and palaestra, as well as the farm traditions of rural Italy.