Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Professor K.M.D. Dunbabin
This thesis examines the baths of the domus in Roman Africa. Private baths have long been recognized as an aspect of Roman domestic architecture, whether belonging to the country residence (villa ) or urban residence (domus ) of the wealthy. However, despite the numerous examples of these baths uncovered by archaeological investigation, and in disparate regions of the Roman world, they are not at all understood. It has generally been considered enough to recognize that they are usually small, and their association with the domestic architecture of the rich suggests that these baths are a luxury, and presumably a status symbol. The domestic urban baths of Roman Africa have been selected since they form a geographically restricted group in an area with a well-developed public bathing tradition. The domestic baths are also found in contexts datable throughout the period of Roman provincial control of North Africa. Since the remains are nearly all the discoveries of early excavation technique, and incompletely published, a primary goal is the clarification of their layout and installations. Forty-three examples are identified. They are found in the houses of the wealthy, although the differences between the houses show that many must have belonged to the comfortably off, and only a few to the very wealthiest inhabitants. The baths show variations in size, number of rooms and pools, and decoration, but they follow a basic and practical arrangement. They all contain a full set of bathing rooms, catering to a complete bathing ritual built around a communal bathing routine. An interesting arrangement in some baths permits bathers to enter directly from the street, which suggests that they are not entirely private in use. The differences between the examples illustrate that a variety of reasons prompted the addition of baths to a domus , precluding a common interpretation for the role of domestic baths in urban society in Roman Africa.
Hewitt, Sonia, "The urban domestic baths of Roman Africa" (2000). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 1713.