Friday, December 26, 2014

Roman Bath, Athens

In the heart of the Greek capital, right next to the modern day metro network, lies the archaeological site of a Roman Bath. The district which, until its extension under Hadrian, lay outside the fortified city has been of importance ever since antiquity. We know, from a number of ancient sources and from earlier research in excavations, that this idyllic spot with the abundant water of the nearby Ilissos river and heavy vegetation was a place in which many divinities were worshipped. It had been a human settlement from prehistoric times and became a burial-ground from the Geometric period.

Once Athens had begun to expand during the reign of the emperor Hadrian, the temple of Olympian Zeus had been completed and the triumphal arch built in honour of the emperor had been erected, the district was incorporated into the inner city and new sanctuaries, public and private buildings and baths were constructed in it.

Rough wall-paintings are evident on the site, pointing out to its later use as a refuge or martyr’s memorial in the early Christian years. In Byzantine times clay silos for storing cereals were sunk into the floors of the rooms of the bath-houses.  

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