Roman Baths and their Urban Setting - A Case Study on the 'bathingscape' of Ostia

The project deals with the physical and social positioning of (public) bathing facilities within urban fabrics. The city of Ostia, will serve as a case study because of its well-known urban fabric and its abundant evidence of bathing facilities, with construction dates ranging from the 1st cent. until the 4th/5th cent. AD. The project examines the phenomenon of public and communal bathing in terms of its significance for urban lifestyles, practices and everyday routines from the Roman Empire to Late Antiquity and deals with the development, design, appropriation and modification of urban spaces by urban communities.
Each bathing facility will be analysed regarding typology, building history, bathing program, and decoration. Furthermore, several factors that influenced the choice of location for a bath, such as (1) availability of building land; (2) topographical conditions; (3) water management and infrastructure (availability and distribution of water, disposal of wastewater, delivery of fuel); (4) accessibility and visibility for customers; (5) local socio-cultural conditions (e.g. deliberate zoning in the layout of the city, specific practices or attitudes, or the desired relationship to specific buildings or areas), will be taken into account .
Based on this, it is possible to evaluate the bathingscape of Ostia both from a rather small-scale perspective (neighbourhood scale) and diachronically with regard to the urban development (urban scale) tackling the following questions: Which urban settings are particularly attractive as locations for baths? What changes does the construction of a bathing facility entail for the immediate 'neighbourhood'? What small-scale modifications and appropriation processes can be identified during the period of use of these facilities in its immediate surrounding areas? And finally, what role do baths play for the perception of the city? What influence do they have on urban lifestyles and everyday life and routines?


Project by Anna-Lena Krüger



Fieldwork + Activities


Participating Institutions