Saturday, 5 January 2013

Roaring Good Roman Fun

After a hard week's graft of lobbying for gender equality, in addition to maintaining our usual high intellectual standards, we thought that, it being the weekend, we might be allowed to relax and ponder something light-hearted and fun! And what can be more fun than Roman plumbing? Well, quite. We couldn't think of anything, either.
We are also pleased to announce that we have a new Privy Counsel Friend; Medievalist (with a Side Interest in Roman Archaeology) Friend. We don't usually employ the word "medieval" in our friends' names, due to the simple reason that almost all our friends are medieval in one way or another, if not in research interests then in mentality, table manners, or some other equally distressing aspect of their personality. However, Medievalist (with a Side Interest in Roman Archaeology) Friend is probably more medieval than most! Anyway, Medievalist (with a Side Interest in Roman Archaeology) Friend sent this picture to us, saying, "I thought you would enjoy this photo of me sitting on a Roman toilet at the bath complex in Nice", and later adding, "Roman plumbing is just about my favourite thing in the entire existence of the whole wide world too!"

 We do so enjoy it when ours and our friends' interests and preferences are in harmony!

Veni, vidi, cacavi: Medievalist (with a Side Interest in Roman Archaeology) Friend
atop a toilet at the Roman bath complex in Nice

We gather this description of the bath complex from Waymarking:
The Roman Bath Complex at Nice-Cimiez is the largest known in Gaul. First surveyed by Duval in 1943, the baths were excavated over the next 30 years by F. Benoit. During the Severan period the North or Magistrate's Bath was built, then expanded to include separate East (men's) and West (women's) bathing areas, the latter having large quantities of hair pins and earrings recovered from the drains. Bath areas identified for visitors include the cold bath (frigidarium), warm bath (tepidarium), sweat bath(laconicum), hot bath (caldarium), swimming pool (natatio), and court and exercise ground (palaestra).

These baths are located at a Greek stronghold that was founded on the Colline du Château at Nice in the 4th century BC by Phocaeans from Marseille. Nice originally had the Greek name Nikaia Polis, or the town of victory (from Nike, victory, and Polis for city). The northern suburb of Cimiez where considerable Roman remains are located was known as Cemenelum.

In the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC, Cemenelum was a base of the Vediantii, a Ligurian tribe. In 154 BC Romans helped Massiliotes defend both Nikaia and Antipolis (Antibes) from Ligurian attacks, after which Cemenelum became a Roman settlement along the Via Julia, a major Roman road. Favorably located, Cemenelum was chosen as the principal seat of the province of Alpes Maritimae by Augustus in 14 BC. Later, the Romans settled further inland, on the opposite side of the river Paillon. Remains of the town on the Hill of Cimiez date to the 3rd century AD, and are now part of the archaeological park at Nice-Cimiez.
Learn some more interesting facts about the Roman bath complex in Nice here, view some sort of semi-official site here, or, if you're into French, view the official site here. For more general information on Roman baths, there is always that stalwart friend to the ignorant yet pretentious, Wikipedia.

Related Reading 
Roman Bath Museum - Crap on a Stick
Let Us Wash, for the Germanic Hordes May Appear at Any Moment
Reminiscences of Nice
Privy Counsel Pin-Up: James Purefoy

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