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Title: The Roman public baths of Central Italy during the Imperial period : an architectural study
Author: Beaufay, Konogan
ISNI:       0000 0004 9356 439X
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2020
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This thesis considers the architecture and technology of the public, urban baths of Central Italy during the Imperial period (27 BC – AD 250), but excluding the well-preserved and better-known examples of Rome, Ostia and Pompeii, which have dominated the discourse on Italian baths for far too long. Using data from ca. 70 bath buildings, gathered together for the first time, the thesis tackles the design of baths and of bathing rooms, the selection and use of construction materials, the management of water within the baths, and the selection of technological devices for their heating. The question of the funding of baths is considered through the physical aspect of the epigraphy, and comparison with the bathing landscape of Rome, Ostia and Pompeii, the rest of Italy, and selected Roman provinces, is drawn. Finally, the thesis considers the role of the different actors in the building process—the builders, the baths specialists, the architects, the commissioners—and their respective influence in the architectural outcome. The thesis reveals how economic considerations and local conditions underlaid almost every step of the construction, from the selection of construction materials for the structure and the heating systems, to the strategies of water management and use in the baths; at the same time, it shows how the standardisation of heating systems technology and the use of blueprints for individual rooms simplified the planning and construction processes. This streamlining of the construction of baths leads to arguing that a percentage of the municipal baths offered by benefactors were almost ‘run-of-the-mill’ benefactions. This picture does not preclude the existence of profit-driven technological creations, original architectural room shapes, and expression of some benefactor’s personal interest in the architectural outcome of their bath benefaction.
Supervisor: Potts, Charlotte ; DeLaine, Janet Sponsor: Clarendon Fund
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Roman Archaeology ; Roman architecture