Developments of Bathing in the Wider Mediterranean

In 5th century Syria, a gradual development takes place in small baths. Steam diffusion devices were progressively introduced to replace hypocaust dry air heating.


Furthermore cold-rooms were enlarged and acquired different functions compared to that of the frigidarium in Roman and Byzantine baths.


The cold-rooms now also serve as resting rooms, rooms for clothing storage and meeting rooms, making them the most important rooms in the complex.  An example of such bathhouses is Qusayr 'Amra, of which a picture can be seen to the left.

This hammam from the 8th century in Jordan, had originally formed part of a larger ‘castle’ complex, Qusayr 'Amra. The Hammam is part of the UNESCO world heritage list and is most famous for its elaborate early Islamic fresco’s.

(Image from J. Pickett, 2012).


A final development taking place from the 5th century onwards in Syria is the replacement of communal baths in the warm rooms with smaller, individual baths. It is from these inventions that the Ottoman hammam developed.


At these early hammam’s too, other activities were carried out in addition to bathing. These activities include the trimming of beards and haircuts for men and scrubbing and egg-white massages against wrinkles round the eyes for women.