Greek tradition, Roman innovation

baths in North Africa - the Egyptian case

Keywords: Roman provinces, Public bathing, Egypt, Cultural exchanges, Identity


Among the various cultural practices brought to the provinces after the Roman conquest, baths figure prominently due to their long duration, the vast territory they cover on three continents, and the remarkable number of remains they’ve left behind. When compared against each other, the architectural features of this body of buildings exhibit a significant variability as we move through time and space. While the North-African provinces, which were strangers to public bath­ing practices before the Roman conquest, boast thermal complexes built according to the imperial model, monumental and symmetrical, in Egypt we contemplate a wholly different panorama. This discrepancy can be attributed to the influence of Greek bathing culture, firmly rooted in Egyptian soil throughout three hundred years of Ptolemaic rule after Alexander’s annexation in 331 BC. Egyptian baths display original features generated by local choices, and constitute an atypical case of regional model – in their plans, their dimensions, their bathing forms, and in the rejection, or partial and often belated adoption of new Roman techniques and architectural innovations, particularly heating by hypocaust.


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Author Biography

Claudia Ribeiro Campos Gradim, Universidade de São Paulo. Museu de Arqueologia e Etnologia. Laboratório de Roma Provincial

Mestre em Arqueologia pelo MAE-USP. Pesquisadora do Laboratório de Arqueologia Romana Provincial, LARP-MAE/USP


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How to Cite
Gradim, C. (2019). Greek tradition, Roman innovation. Revista Do Museu De Arqueologia E Etnologia, (32), 79-86.