More often than not, you may take for granted the things that you do every day. The simplest acts like eating, drinking, and bathing have been so mundane. And the last thing that you can think of doing is research about their beginnings and some trivia facts. Take baths, for instance. It seems impractical to research about it when you would rather spend extra time in your hands looking for solutions to a peeling tub. By the way, if your relaxing tub has seen better days and is starting to chip and peel, check out this Cambridge bathtub refinishing company because they can bring it back to life again.
But for now, let us explore the world of ancient and modern baths and leave the restoration for another day.
Ancient Bath Time
Do you know that the average person spends approximately 180 hours a year in the bath? Daily, it translates to 30 minutes, on the average. It is logical to conclude that baths have been part of man’s daily life (from the beginning of time, maybe) since humans, like some species, have acquired the habit of keeping the body clean. And unlike cats and other felines who lick themselves clean, humans soak in and bathe with water.
The Stone Age
Some historians say that people from this age did bathe. Humans once lived in caves that are accessible to nearby springs. And it is believed that this is where they sourced water for washing and bathing.
The Common Era
During the Common Era, there was a civilization known as the Indus Valley. This civilization was one of the first to install a public sanitation system in their cities. Apart from their sleeping areas, there are designated areas strictly for bathing. They have also designed a system that drains used water away from the property.
In the same era, ancient humans have built the world’s first public water tank. Bitumen, a black, oily form of petroleum that is a byproduct of the decayed plant is once used to build The Great Baths. It is naturally abundant in lakes and tar pits. Ancient civilization used it to fill cavities between brickworks to make sure water does not seep through. The Great Bath has a depth of more than 2 meters. People enter the bath through two stairways.
For the ancient Greeks living in the Sparta area, the earliest form of bathing was a fast dip in icy water. By the middle of 2000 (Common Era), the first hot baths are recorded somewhere in Crete, Greece. These baths took place in palaces. During this period, Greeks used washtubs approximately five feet in length. The washtub is of terracotta, a porous type of clay. To make the tubs, Greek artisans shaped it, let it dry under the sun, and fired it atop a pit.
The Greeks are historically famous for their public baths for relaxation and socializing. As they progressed, they built baths inside buildings, near sporting areas. It had heated floors, and Olympians enjoy hot water baths made possible by heating furnaces. Serving food and drinks in it also became popular.
History reveals that Romans were great inventors, just like their Greek counterparts. The Romans designed gutters and water systems to distribute water to communal baths. Communal baths were also a place for closing business deals as well as courtship among the Romans.
They also built a hypocaust, a hollow area beneath the floor where hot air flows (from burning logs) and heats a room or bath. The only problem was it heats the floor at very high temperatures, making it hard to walk on it barefoot. Romans had to make special footwear as added protection.
Ancient Romans bathe to clean themselves rather than to socialize. But bathing was not a real priority. There were occasions when they took a bath every nine days.
The Medieval Era
There was a time in history, particularly the Medieval period that bathing was not regular. Only those who belong to the higher classes (of society) had the privilege to bath often.
In some parts of the old United Kingdom, the Catholic Church once banned public baths. Nakedness, while public bathing, was immoral, according to the Church. The latter had to ban it. While some areas in the country (especially in big cities) failed to close down their baths, Henry VIII made sure that it ended in his reign.
The monied classes had no option but to construct wooden tubs for bathing at home. They fill their baths with jugs of warm water one at a time. Sponging with scented herbs was also a popular bathing method. The less monied folks cannot afford these luxuries.
The 18th Century Era
There came a time when experts in Medicine got hooked on the idea that bathing causes bad air to penetrate skin pores and cause disease. It was unhealthy to take a bath. And so they advised that instead of taking baths, people just wash their clothes regularly to keep themselves clean.
It is quite amazing how people of the old had different views about baths. And some opinions were ridiculous. Luckily, in time, this absurdity was dispelled. Once again, bathing was declared as healthy, beneficial, and protects from germs and disease.
The 19th Century Era
With the coming of the 19th Century Era, experts introduced the use of pipes to distribute water. However, piped water systems were not yet made available (and still unpopular) to the majority. They also launched sanitation systems. But those living in urbanized areas were the first ones to benefit from it. As a result, urban dwellers can collect water from major designated areas to bring home. During this time, communities had to share bathwater, since it was quite burdensome to collect and transport it to homes. Weekends became bath times for people during this time. It became a once-a-week thing for most folks. For non-urban dwellers, city public baths remained accessible. It was encouraged to keep people out of toxic lakes and rivers.
Copper baths were slowly making a name during this period. As it gained popularity (among the rich people), it replaced the centuries-old wooden tubs in homes. Since most homes at that time were a one-room affair, people moved the wash baths within it from time to time. For the wealthy class, the claw-foot tub was a staple in the home. The body was of cast iron and the lining of porcelain. It was a luxury that the less fortunate can only dream of it.
As the 19th Century Era came to a close, some businessmen engaged in manufacturing bathtubs. In Pittsburgh, the Standard Sanitary Manufacturing Company, with Theodore Arhens, Jr. at the helm, made and designed cast iron bathtubs. Since they of porcelain lining, their tubs were easy to clean and safer to use.
Later, businesses such as Kholer started to create well-designed baths. The founder, John Kohler’s, had unforgettable beginnings. His inspiration for conceptualizing a bathtub was a cast-iron watering trough. Troughs are big containers used as drinking receptacles for big animals like hogs and horses. He imagined it as a practical bathing tub for people. But it was not until ten years later when he put his idea to reality.
What he did was heat the trough to a temperature of approximately 927 degrees Celsius. Then, he applied enamel powder on the surface. Porcelain enamel contains powdered glass. After reaching its melting point, it eventually hardens. Kholer came up with a smooth and sturdy bathtub using this process. Later, he sold his prototype and ventured too in the plumbing industry.
The 20th Century
In 1928, the Crane Company (founded by Richard Teller Crane) introduced baths with added features. They designed bathtubs with different colors and ones where bathers can sit up supported by walls.
Later, builders started to install bathrooms in homes. It began in Britain. In the US, this was happening too. There was a construction boom after World War I, and it was a period for rebuilding.
At present, people have the luxury of choosing from a wide selection of baths and bathroom fixtures. Bathtubs are ordinary fixtures in most homes/ They are no longer a luxury. Not only the rich and famous can own one.
Modern bathtubs come in different make or material. Some are of porcelain-enameled steel that is reasonably priced. Meanwhile, others are of fiberglass material or thermoformed acrylic. They are easy to mold and therefore come in different shapes. In terms of design and function, tubs can be free-standing, drop-in, undermount, claw-foot, corner tub – the list goes on.
With the help of technology, baths have become more pleasurable, and you do not need to have food and drinks, meet your future partner, or close a business deal (like what the ancient Romans did) to make it a fruitful and enjoyable time of the day. All it takes is a simple 30-minute soak, and you are off to your slice of heaven.