Ancient Rome
Roman Bathhouses

Roman Bathhouses
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 3 to 5
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   5.05

     challenging words:    bathhouse, concession, despite, filth, gossip, grates, hypocaust, lukewarm, lunge, ritual, sauna, scrubbed, steamy, strigil, concrete, pools

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Roman Bathhouses
By Vickie Chao

1     What is your favorite way to relax after a day of hard work? If your answer is to take a hot bath, you are certainly not alone. The ancient Romans had the same idea, too.
2     The Romans were very serious about bathing. To appease the demand, there were many bathhouses. Some of those bathhouses were privately owned, but others were not. Some of those bathhouses were very simple, but others were not. Despite the differences, all bathhouses used the so-called hypocaust system for central heating. They had fire grates in their basements. When fires were lit in the grates, hot air flew through the wall ducts. It warmed up the baths. The floor at ground level was supported by concrete or brick pillars. Both building materials were great for retaining heat.
3     Interestingly, the Romans did not wash their bodies with soap. They used oil instead. After undressing, they would usually rub oil onto their skin and head to a "warm room." Once there, they might lunge into a pool of lukewarm water for a while. Or they might simply sit around chatting with their friends. When they felt it was about time to move on, they would then go to a "hot room." A "hot room" was like a sauna. It was hot and steamy. As the Romans sat and perspired, they used a tool to scrape dirt off their skin. The tool had a specific name. It was called "strigil." It was made of wood, bone, or metal.

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