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Heating Roman Baths at Ostia: Beyond Vitruvius History Essay (Essay Sample)


Heating Roman Baths at Ostia: Beyond Vitruvius


Heating Roman Baths at Ostia: Beyond Vitruvius
Ismini Alexandra Miliaresis
University of Virginia
Heating Roman Baths at Ostia: Beyond Vitruvius
Using the Forum Baths at Ostia as a case study, this paper demonstrates how the works of Vitruvius and other ancient writers can be useful in furthering our understanding of Roman technology and engineering practices, particularly Roman baths. The pitfalls of relying too heavily on ancient literary sources to explore such archaeological material are also examined; and the benefits of combining these documents with other forms of evidence are explored.
The public baths of the ancient Roman world provide a window into many aspects of Roman life. They are sometimes mentioned in ancient sources, but often only in passing or as the setting for an anecdote. Finding an account related to the construction or operation of the baths is even more infrequent, especially when seeking evidence related to their heating systems. My dissertation is an examination of the heating systems and the amount of fuel that was consumed in the Forum Baths at Ostia, which is approximately 15 miles from Rome. In order to evaluate how these baths operated, it is necessary to determine how the structures were designed, during which hours the baths were frequented, what temperatures were used, and what types of fuel were burned.

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