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Hypocaust of the Heated Room in the Roman Baths

Hypocaust of the Heated Room - Roman Baths (Bath)

Hypocaust of the Heated Room in the Roman Baths

The Hypocaust of the Heated Room in the Roman Baths was as a system of central heating in the baths that produces and circulates hot air below the floor of a room. This hypocaust pilae shows how their heating system would have worked. These pillars of tiles supported the floor of this room, and the room was heated with hot air drawn from fire and circulated around these tile posts.

Most Roman Public Baths were built around three principal rooms: the caldarium (hot bath), the tepidarium (warm bath) and the frigidarium (cold bath). The Roman Baths in Bath included thermae, due to the hot springs, which featured steam baths: the sudatorium, a moist steam bath, and the laconicum, a dry, hot room much like a modern sauna.

This Heated Room would have been a hot and steamy room heated by the hypocaust and was the hottest room in the regular sequence of bathing rooms. After the caldarium, bathers would progress back through the tepidarium to the frigidarium. The bathers would use olive oil to cleanse themselves by applying it to their bodies and using a strigil to remove the excess oil. This used oil left on the floor for the slaves to pick up or put back in the pot for the women to use for their hair.

Roman Public baths originated from a common need for cleanliness and the health benefits of the hot springs at a time when most houses did not have access to private bathing facilities. In ancient times public bathing included saunas, massages and relaxation therapies. Public baths were restricted depending on social rank and wealth and became incorporated into the social system as meeting places.

The first shrine at the site of the hot springs at Bath was built by Celts and was dedicated to the goddess Sulis, whom the Romans identified with Minerva. The name Sulis continued to be used after the Roman invasion, leading to the town’s Roman name of Aquae Sulis “the waters of Sulis”. The temple was constructed in 60–70 AD and the bathing complex was gradually built up over the next 300 years.

Hypocaust of the Heated Room in the Roman Baths

  • Title:                      Hypocaust of the Heated Room in the Roman Baths
  • Medium:               Ceramic Tiles
  • Date:                      100 AD
  • Museum:              Roman Baths Museum

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Photo Credit: JOM