Personal hygiene was very important in ancient Egypt. Ancient Egyptian baths helped people stay clean, happy and live a fuller life.
Almost every person in ancient Egypt bathed on a daily basis. Ancient Egyptians believed bathing was important to satisfy the gods when they died.
They believed staying clean helped them with their Judgment of the Dead and helped them enter life after death.
In the early days of ancient Egypt poor people bathed in the Nile River. Poor families in ancient Egypt did not have a separate area in their home for bathing.
Most did not have a bathroom and none of the homes had running water.
Wealthier ancient Egyptians bathed within their homes. These homes had specific areas for bathing including large tubs or basins. Servants would bring water and fill the basin or tub.
After the person was finished bathing the tub or basin would be cleaned. Even the homes of wealthier ancient Egyptians did not have running water.
Development of bath houses
During the new kingdom period under ruler Ptolemais numerous bath houses were built. The bath houses were fashioned after the ancient Greek bath houses.
The bath houses contained separate areas for men and women. Many of the rooms were circular in shape and had hip-baths located on the walls. Ancient Egyptians used the bath house to increase their personal hygiene.
The bath houses did not have running water. Ancient Egyptians would sit in a large basin area and servants would pour water over them. This type of bathing continued for centuries even after larger basins were built where people were able to relax for longer times.
Through research we know there were 46 Greek-style bath houses in ancient Egypt.
Ancient Egyptians began to build Roman-style bath houses in the first century C.E. The Roman-style bath houses were quite different.
These bath houses contained numerous rooms with heated water of different temperatures. The water was heated below the bath house in an underground hypocaustum.
There have been an additional 49 Roman-style bath houses found that were constructed from the 1st century C.E. to the 6th century C.E.
After the conquest of Alexander the Great, bath houses in ancient Egypt flourished once again. There have been at least 12 bath houses found in the ancient city of Alexandria.
Types of ancient Egyptian baths
When the wealthier ancient Egyptians bathed, they developed specific methods for bathing. Ancient Egyptians liked to wear perfume and make-up.
Many of the bathing methods used perfume or scented water to help people get clean. Ancient Egyptians used a soap called natron when they bathed. Natron was a product of clay and ash that was scented.
Ancient Egyptians also used ingredients described in the Ebers Medical Papyrus. These mixtures of ingredients included animal fat, alkaline salts and vegetable oils.
Ancient Egyptians used these mixtures for washing and for fighting skin disease. Skin disease was common in ancient Egypt because of the sun and desert heat.
There were other ancient Egyptian bath types that were popular. During the reign of Cleopatra VII the milk bath was developed. The queen would bath in a mixture of donkey milk and water.
Donkey milk is a natural skin moisturizer. The mixture helped Cleopatra VII stay younger looking and became popular around the ancient world.
Facts about ancient Egyptian baths
- Ancient Egyptians bathed almost every day.
- Poorer ancient Egyptians bathed in the Nile River.
- Only wealthier ancient Egyptians had a bathroom in their home.
- Ancient Egyptian homes did not have running water.
- Bath houses were developed during the reign of Ptolemais.
- The first bath houses were designed after Greek bath houses.
- Natron was a mixture ash and clay that was scented.
- Cleopatra VII took baths in donkey milk to help revitalize her skin.
- Where did poor ancient Egyptians bath?
- Cleopatra VII used what type of mixture when she bathed?
- The first ancient Egyptian baths were designed after what style of baths?
- What type of soap was made from clay and ash?
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