"Antonine Baths - Part 1" Carthage Travelogue by Willettsworld

Carthage Travel Guide: 134 reviews and 494 photos

One of the highlights of Carthage are the massive remains of the Baths of Antoninus Pius, which were the largest in the Roman world outside Rome. They occupy an area of 1.8 hectares/4.5 acres. Built between A.D. 146 and 162, in the reign of the Emperor Antoninus Pius, they were extensively restored in 389 but subsequently collapsed, presumably as a result of a structural defect, and thereafter were used for centuries as a quarry of building stone.

The ground-plan of the baths was strictly symmetrical; one wing may have been used by men, the other by women. Eight colossal columns of gray granite (each 1.60m/5.25ft in diameter, weighing 50 tons, with Corinthian capitals of white marble, 1.8m/6ft high and weighing over 4 tons) supported the vaulting of the central chamber, the frigidarium (cold room), which was 50m/165ft long by 20m/65ft wide. One of the eight columns has been restored and re-erected.

A visit to the baths followed a fairly regular sequence. After undressing in the apodyterium the bather had the choice between the warm pool and physical exercise in the palaestra or the covered gymnasium. Then he could warm himself in the warm room (tepidarium), attend to his personal hygiene in the destrictarium, have a good sweat in the laconicum, followed by a hot bath in the caldarium, cool down gradually in the tepidarium and finally have a cold bath in one of the four basins in the frigidarium, the central feature of the whole establishment.

  • Page Written Feb 16, 2008
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