A temporary exhibition called Bathing culture in Aquincum can be visited at the Aquincum Museum in Budapest until December 2016. It is right next to the permanent exhibition called Aquincum Vision Storage. The exhibition room is only 30 square meters but the information you can read on the walls are carefully collected and really systematic. It presents the bathing habits of the Romans. Let us step in.

The water meant to Romans not only the needs of daily hygiene. The Roman bathhouse was of Greek origin. While Greek baths were strictly the place for cleansing after physical exercises, Roman bahs became the scene of relaxation, invigorating and social contacts. There was clamorous life in Aquincum baths two-thousand years ago.

The first ancient baths in Budapest were found by chance in the process of digging a lime pit in 1778. Since then only in the territory of Aquincum (one part of 3rd district in Budapest) twenty baths or building sections belonging to baths have been found during archaeological excavations.


Roman period baths unearthed in the territory of present-day Budapest

Romans treated thermal water with respect and recognized its medicinal effects. Catchment basin and well-houses were built over the medical springs. Well-houses also served as small sanctuaries: altars stood in them.


Models of catchments and well-houses.


A sample of catchment basin in the exhibition.

A typical Roman bathhouse was constructed with uniformity throughout the Roman Empire. The buildings consisted of three main rooms for bathing: the frigidarium (unheated and with cold water pools), the caldarium (with hot water pools and where the temperature and humidity were both high) and the tepidarium between hot and cold part. It could have a pool with tepid water. Sometimes a sweating-room with high temperature but low humidity could be accessed from the tepidarium. It was similar to dry sauna.


Visualization of the ancient baths.

Roman baths could be of three types in accordance with ownership and users: private, public and military baths. There were any difference between them. For example, in military baths there were two (hot but low humidity) sweating-rooms. These dry saunas were needed because regarding to medical advice its effect on human body was like annealing iron. It can be said that the positive effects of sauna have been already recognized in ancient times.

You can find many other interests including the architecture. Innovative solutions were used in heating, water-heating, water supply and sewage disposal. For example, I would have never thought that sewage water from the pools was often channelled through the latrines attached to the bathhouses, by ensuring a constant flow of water to flush the toilets.


The heated air was circulating brick floor like this.

Romans took their bathing equipment: towel, bathing clogs, comb, mirror, ear picker, tweezers, olive oil or other perfumed oil or cream, a scraper called strigilis (used for removing oil and dirt from the body), scrub stone.


Bathing equipment - slave carried these belongings in case of wealthy person

I do propose to visit this exhibition. The entrance fee is HUF 1000. It would be better if the weather is fine because of the Roman ruins outside. This is the largest Roman archaeological park in Hungary. You will not be disappointed.


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