History of Bath Tubs & Bathing – Part III

Egyptian Bath -The Bath Tub Diva, Ritama Haaga

Egyptian Bath - but where are the rubber duckies?

I know, you’ve been dying for an update to the enthralling HISTORY OF BATHING series by The Bath Tub Diva!

Well, here it is…when last we left off we were in Rome and the grand baths were called “Thermae”. For this episode, we’ll be going a bit backwards to ancient Eqypt (Cue Bangles “Walk Like an Egyptian”).


Dating as far back as 2000 BC, ancient Egyptians were amongst the first to widely adopt the power of the hot tub for its therapeutic values. In fact, Phraortes, the King of Media, built one of the first known hot tubs in 600 BC, which simply consisted of a water-filled caldera that was then heated by placing red-hot stones in the water. Yeah, but did they have JETS in these hot tubs?

Due to the climate, (remember, we are in Egypt where it’s hot hot hot) Egyptians were fixated on cleanliness – so much so that foreigners (thought to be dirty) and those who didn’t have access to personal hygiene options were despised. Despised? Seems a bit harsh – maybe they were just violently ignored?

Men and woman shaved and plucked off all of their body hair using tweezers, knives and razors, made of flint or metal – ALL of their hair? All of it? They would be busy all the time because once you got to the end of your body, hair would have grown in at the beginning again. Not only was this for beauty, but it also rid the Egyptians of body lice. (TBTD says Ewwwwwwwwwwww to body lice!)

To clean themselves while bathing, the Egyptians used natron (which was also used when mummifying the dead – another ewwwwww from TBTD – you know they pulled their brains outta their noses – the dead, not the bathers), followed by linen towels for drying. The rich had facilities in their places of residence while the majority of Egyptians bathed in the Nile.

The homes of the wealthy were airy and roomy, literally. There were bedrooms, servant’s quarters, halls, dining rooms – and BATHROOMS! Actually, a “bathroom” was usually a small recessed room with a square slab of limestone in the corner. There the master of the house stood while his slaves liberally doused him with water. Well, we can’t really call that a “bath” now can we? That is a “shower”.  And this slave business is bothersome; for goodness sake “master of the house”, pick up your own bucket and soak your head, do you really have to have someone do that for you?

Egyptian royalty bathed with essential oils and flowers. But no rubber ducks or bubbles – so sad.

And now you have some fascinating facts to share at your next slumber party! I personally  liked the bits about the complete removal of all body hair and the brains coming out the noses.

Ancient Bathing in Egypt - The Bath Tub Diva, Ritama Haaga

Ancient Bathing in Egypt - with, um, all your clothes on...

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Thanks to these resources for this article:

Bull Frog Spas

The Keep

The Plumber

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