The Journey of Bathing Culture

Talking about the history of spa will bring us back to the ancient history of bathing. The spa treatment was used to be known as bathing rituals for purification using water which believed as purifier and healer. Back to the Roman history the most popular bathing rituals started at the time when Roman Empire discovered thermal water spring to relieve the ailments and the wounds of the legionnaires. Later on they started to build baths at the spring’s areas and naming them “aquae”. The invention of hot water treatment for healing was referring to as “Sanus Per Aquam” (SPA) which means healthy trough water. However there was a little evidence of Roman Empire as the first inventor of spa, yet people accept that the word spa came from Belgian town of Spa which famous in 14th century as water treatment and managed its existence until today.

Another sources even mentioned the ancient Greece bathing habit where they prefer baths in fresh water from natural resources, although bathing in the sea (thalassotherapy) was also applied. According to the Hippocrates (460-370BC) bathing was considered more than a simple hygienic measure; it was healthy and beneficial to cure most disease.

Hippocrates believed that sickness or disease comes from the imbalance condition of bodily fluids. To bring back the health and balancing their condition, the Greek was changing their habit which included bathing, perspiration, walking and massages. They even combine bathing with the sports activities like gymnastics, and educational activity which became the precursors of the gymnasium.

Some literatures mentioned that the Roman Empire was influenced by the Ancient Greek habits, where in contrary the Roman Empire considered that bathing is not only the matter of gymnastic alone. Furthermore bathing in Roman Empire developed into a new form of medical activity using the water therapy. During this period therapeutic and preventative action were introduced by Greek physician who practiced in Rome, Asclepiades. Pliny the Elder and Galen also found another water treatment of a variety of disease. Galen prefers to use cold water, a concept that was reconsidered periodically throughout the centuries.

According to the Roman period, bathing was already divided into several types, baths at home (balnea), private baths (balnea privata), and public baths (balnea publica). These agglomerations were not far different from the situations nowadays. Wealthy people would have their own spa services, middle to upper class people will go to the private bath, and lower class usually go to the public baths to get together with their friends or family.
The spa or bathing history was turn into its darkness ages when the Roman falls and the Christianity rising. The bathing culture was prohibited and developed as churches. People were abstained from bathing, sometimes for years. Until the time when bathing became the new way to purify Christian’s member who started to join the church and became a symbol of a newborn pure soul.

During the ages of innovation and perfection, the materials of the minerals inside the water from each springs has analyzed. It turns out that every mineral have its own effect to our body. People with A disease should go to the A spring, so do the one with B and C disease should find springs with the right mineral composition to heal. Nowadays minerals has been modified to some small particles that could be added to our water, our massage oil or our scrubs gel and simplify our spa treatment without go far away to find the right springs for our body. I guess it is the right time to thank the scientist and enjoy what they have invented; a healthy spa treatment.

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