By Dr Joanne Berry
Last updated 2011-02-17
This photograph shows the caldarium (hot room) of the Forum Baths. Baths were an important part of Roman life, and it was a Roman custom to visit the baths daily, both for reasons of cleanliness and to conduct business or meet friends.
The Forum Baths appear to have been built soon after Pompeii became a Roman colony. There are separate areas for men and women, the men's baths being far more elaborate and spacious.
Thanks to under-floor heating, and air ducts built into the walls, the whole room would have been full of steam when in use. Grooves in the ceiling allowed condensation to be channelled to the walls, rather than drip onto bathers. Cold water was piped into the basin at the centre of the photograph, thus enabling bathers to cool off when they wanted.
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