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Abbasid History Podcast

May 2, 2024

The bathhouse is an iconic feature of the medieval middle eastern city up until the present. But how did this come to be? In this episode we look into the origins of bathing culture in the Middle East by going back to the Roman, late antique and early Islamic development of bathhouses.

Speakers: Nathalie de Haan and Sadi Maréchal. Interviewer: Edmund Hayes.

Nathalie de Haan is an associate professor in ancient history at Radboud University, Department of History, Art History and Classics and RICH (Radboud Institute for Culture &History). She is the coordinator of the RICH research group The Ancient World. Her research interest include baths and bathing in the Roman world, Pompeii and Herculaneum and the history of classical archaeology in modern Italy (19th and 20th centuries).

Sadi Maréchal is senior postdoctoral researcher of the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO) based at the department of Archaeology at Ghent University, part of the Historical Archaeology Research Group, the Mediterranean Archaeology Research Unit and coordinator of the Ghent Centre for Late Antiquity.

This episode was produced by Edmund Hayes and Jouke Heringa.

Further Reading

Nathalie de Haan & Kurt Wallat, Die Zentralthermen (Terme Centrali) in Pompeji: Archäologie eines Bauprojektes, Papers of the Royal Netherlands Institute in Rome, 71 (Rome: Quasar, 2023). (see:

Nathalie de Haan “Si aquae copia patiatur. Pompeian Private Baths and the Use of Water”, Chapter 4, in A.O. Koloski-Ostrow (ed.), Water Use and Hydraulics in the Roman City, Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company (Archaeological Institute of America, Colloquia and Conference Papers, Vol. 3, 2001)

Sadi Maréchal, Public Baths and Bathing Habits in Late Antiquity. A Study of the Evidence from Italy, North Africa and Palestine A.D. 285–700 (Late Antique Archaeology Supplementary Series 6), Leiden: Brill 2020.

Sadi Maréchal, Washing the Body, Cleaning the Soul : Baths and Bathing Habits in a Christianising Society, Antiquité Tardive 28 (2020): 167–176.

F. Yegül, Bathing in the Roman World (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010).

Edmund Hayes

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