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A brief history of bathing

8th July 2014

Bathing has been considered one of life’s essential activities since its conception, but bathing has taken on many different guises over the years, from a cleansing experience for the rich in the Roman baths to a simple activity to ensure that you are clean.

While today’s approach to bathing is both that of a luxurious and relaxing experience as well as one that sees walk in baths and showers making bathing accessible for all, it has not always been this way. This guide looks to introduce you to the interesting and intriguing history of bathing.

In the beginning
While many think of the Roman baths when they think of ancient bathing, the beginnings of this activity are actually rooted in Ancient Greece – the earliest findings of baths are dated from the mid-2nd millennium BC and are in the palace complex of Knossos in Crete. Alongside personal bathing, the Ancient Greeks also established public baths, where they also had a gymnasium for leisure.

From Ancient Greece to Ancient Rome, bathing took on a whole new image once the Romans had created a network of aqueducts. The Roman baths were created to supply towns with a water supply that the whole population to use.

Health properties
This idea of public bathing later took off to introduce a whole host of health benefits that the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans all came to use. They developed many therapies to be used in the baths that were to heal ailments and conditions. The Roman baths in particular were famous for curing conditions, with the Roman Baths in Bath, England being among the most famous in this country for such bathing.

Individuals would come from all over to bathe in the Roman baths’ healing waters and rather than soap, it was the hot springs that were better known for cleansing the body. The hot springs that form this bathing area are famous to this day, where visitors can go and learn about the type of people that visited Bath for this reason and the type of treatments they undertook.

In our contemporary society, bathing still is associated with a whole host of health benefits where warm and relaxing waters can ease joints and inflammation. However, sometimes the people most in need of such an experience may be the least mobile and struggle to bathe themselves. For those who rely on mobility aids and stairlifts, a bath can be the most tiresome experience rather than one with associations of tranquillity, but luckily modern technology has come on leaps and bounds since the time of the Roman baths.

With accessible shower enclosures and even a wet room now becoming an increasingly regular sight in the home, it would seem that bathing as the Romans did all those years ago could be more accessible than ever. Now elderly people and those who are less mobile can enjoy the comfort or sitting in a bath without the struggle that comes with it.

Image Credit: MonkeyMyshkin (

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only and are up to date as of the time of publishing