Roman baths

Visiting the thermae was a fixed part of the Roman way of life. So that they did not have to forego Rome’s luxuries, the Romans erected public bathing establishments in the farthest towns – as in Carnuntum. The largest and most magnificent were the forum public baths, which were erroneously named as the “palace ruins”.

The reconstructed public baths here were one of several such establishments in Carnuntum. Archaeological investigations showed that the public baths were constructed as a public building, probably shortly after the civil settlement was raised to the status of Municipium Aelium Karnuntum around the year 124 AD, similar to being raised to the status of a municipality. The public baths cover an area of around 1,500 sq. metres, and about 1,200 cubic metres of material were used to rebuild the stone walls. All the work was carried out by hand.

The biggest challenge was the reconstruction of the Roman heating system and supplying the pools with water. Attempts at heating on a smaller scale in Lucius’ house and in the villa urbana brought practical experience as to how the Roman hypocaust heating system worked. However, there was no experience whatsoever of construction projects of this size. The reconstruction of the water supply was even more complicated. Although there are numerous contemporary descriptions of how this worked, there are hardly any original finds from ancient times. This project thus broke completely new ground. This has resulted in the only fully functioning Roman public baths in the world so far being erected on the original site using ancient building technology.

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