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Ancient Greek Bathhouse Unearthed in Egypt

Ancient Greek bathhouse found in an Ancient Egyptian town
Ancient Greek bathhouse unearthed in Egypt’s ancient town of Berenike. Credit: Steven Sidebotham via
@HowItWorksmag /Twitter

A 2,200-year-old ancient Greek bathhouse has recently been discovered in the ancient Egyptian seaport town of Berenike on the western shore of the Red Sea. The structure apparently dates back to the third century B.C.

The bathhouse would have probably served as a place of relaxation for the military stationed in the region, according to what Marek Wozniak, assistant professor at the Institute of Mediterranean and Oriental Cultures at the Polish Academy of Science, told the magazine Live Science.

An ancient Greek bathhouse

Wozniak led the research team that examined ruins from Berenike dating back to the Hellenistic period in Ancient Egypt between 323 and 30 B.C. It was during this period that Ancient Greece and Ancient Egypt lost two of their most beloved figures whom they considered two gods, namely Alexander the Great and Cleopatra VII.

It was also during this historical moment when the Greek culture blossomed in the East, both architecturally and culturally.

The sizeable bathhouse is reported to have encompassed two circular structures called tholoi, each with fourteen baths. They would have also provided both cold and room temperature water in addition to a special room for hotter baths.

According to Wozniak, they were fed by one well that filled two large reservoirs. The water then streamed into the bathhouse from there. In addition, it might have also featured a gym at the West end of the restructure.

Ancient Greek Bath house in Berenike, Egypt
A well and two water reservoirs fed the Greek bathhouse at Berenike. Credit: Steven Sidebotham

In an ancient Egyptian town

Berenice Troglodytica, or Berenike if shortened, had been a seaport in ancient Egypt on its Western shores. The name Troglodytica refers to the region’s indigenous people, who were cave dwellers known as “Troglodytai.”

Ptolemy II Philadelphus, known after his death as Ptolemy the Great, founded it in 275 BCE. His mother, Berenice I of Egypt, was its namesake. The Egyptian ruler was also the son of Alexander the Great’s Macedonian Greek general. His mother originated from the same Northern Greek region.

Ancient Greeks, such as Strabo, ventured to Berenike at the height of its prosperity. Its richness was due to its being one of the central ports for trades. Sri Lanka, India, Upper Egypt, and Arabia were some of the important routes it served.

It was obviously so special that a Greek merchant who lived in Alexandria at that time wrote of its trade in his travel narratives Periplus of the Erythraean Sea.

Wozniak stated that there had been a heavy military presence in Berenike, which would have frequented the Ancient Greek bathhouse.

Though no significant artifacts remained at the site, archaeologists did discover some coins and pottery that allowed them to date their find.

This is not the first ruin of an ancient Greek bathhouse unearthed recently. Yet, another was unearthed in Tuscany no so long ago.

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