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Scholastic Baths

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Ancient History

The Scholastica Baths were one of the centres of aristocratic social life in ancient Ephesus. Built in the 1st century on the north side of Curetes Street and was later repaired in the 4th century by a the Christian aristocrat Scholastica; her statue stands at the main entrance to the Baths. During the restoration, stones from the Prythaneion were repurposed for the Baths, a very common practice in Ephesus during the Roman-era.

The Baths were one of the largest structures in ancient Ephesus, standing 3 stories tall and able to accommodate over 1,000 visitors at once. The first floor of the building had four rooms arranged in a circle, facilitating the flow of patrons through a progression of baths. The first room, the Apodyterium, was a changing room with 10 cabins; wealthy citizens would leave their valuables in these cabins to be guarded by slaves. The next room was the Frigidarium. This room had a cold water pool, with an overlay of marble that is still intact today. The Tepidarium followed with a lukewarm pool. The last room, the Caldarium, had a hot water pool and heat was pumped in through a very advanced system for the time called a hypocaust. The Caldarium had a marble floor supported over an open area where hot water was pumped in after being heated by a furnace. This hypocaust system as well as clay pipes running through the floors and walls fed water and steam to the rooms and pools. On the second floor of the Scholastica Baths, patrons could get massage therapy and therapeutic scrubs. The Baths also contained a library, entertainment rooms, as well as private rooms where visitors could stay for multiple days.

Bathing was a very important aspect of daily life in the Roman Empire, especially for the aristocrats. Men and women, at separate hours, would attend the baths daily with large groups of friends and their servants in tow. They would move through the progression of pools, often returning to the Tepidarium to relax and socialize. The Tepidariums of Roman bath houses are often considered to have played a key role in the development of Roman philosophy. Bathhouses are still very popular today, the tradition has continued through the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires.

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