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in architecture. Ritual bathing is traceable to ancient Egypt, to prehistoric cities of the Indus River valley, and to the early Aegean civilizations. Remains of bathing apartments dating from the Minoan period exist in the palaces at Knossos and Tiryns. The ancient Greeks devised luxurious bathing provisions, with heated water, plunges, and showers. Bathing in public facilities, or thermae, was developed by the Romans to a unique degree. Thermae, probably copied after the Greek gymnasia, had impressive interiors, with rich mosaics, rare marbles, and gilded metals. Water, brought by aqueducts, was stored in reservoirs, heated to various temperatures, and distributed by piping to the bath apartments. Certain rooms were kept heated by means of furnaces which sent hot air into lines of flues beneath floors and in the walls. There are ruins of public baths in Pompeii, and in Rome there exist extensive remains of the thermae of Titus (A.D. 80), of Caracalla (A.D. 212–35), and of Diocletian (A.D. 302).
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



in medicine, therapeutic or health treatments during which the body is totally or partially immersed in water or another substance. Depending on the substance in which the body is immersed, baths are classified as water, mud, sand, air, and so on.

Water baths are used for health and therapeutic-prophylactic purposes. Some have a constant temperature: cold (lower than 20° C), cool (20°-33° C), so-called indifferent (34°-36° C), warm (37°-39° C), and hot (40° C or more). Some baths feature a gradually rising temperature; these are either local or general. Contrast baths alternate the action of cold (10°-24° C) and hot (38°-42° C) water. In addition, combined baths, in which the effects of general baths are combined with the actions of other factors, such as electricity, vibration, directed air stream, massage, and the like, are used in therapeutic practice. Baths are classified according to their composition as freshwater, mineral (hydrogen sulfide, sodium chloride, iodobromide, and slag), gaseous (carbon dioxide, oxygen, nitrogen, and pearl), radon, aromatic (pine, sage, turpentine, and mustard), and medicinal (with potassium permanganate, soda, starch, and so on). There are short baths (1-5 min), average baths (10-12-15 min), longer-than-average baths (20-30 min), and long baths (several hours).

Freshwater baths with temperatures of 36°-38° C are used for health purposes. For therapeutic and prophylactic purposes, baths of natural and artificial mineral and carbonated waters are used, in addition to freshwater ones. The physiological effects of baths as well as of other hydropathic procedures are conditioned by the effects of temperature, mechanical factors, and chemical factors (with mineral, gaseous, and medicinal baths) on the peripheral endings of the analysors of the nervous system which are embedded in the skin (thermo-, baro-, chemo-, and other receptors). Gaseous substances (carbon dioxide gas and hydrogen sulfide among others) and also, apparently, certain ions (iodine, bromine, and arsenic)—both of which enter the body through the skin (gaseous ones also enter through the upper respiratory tract)—stimulate the receptors in the walls of vessels and internal organs. The stimulation of baths, compared to the effects of showers and swimming, is small; it is caused only by the insignificant hydrostatic pressure on the surface of the body. One may influence the stimulating and tonic or tranquilizing processes of the body and speed up or slow down the exchange processes in the organism by changing the ratios of the basic active factors of baths and by using various quantities of water (general, local, or half-bath), various temperatures (cold, cool, hot, and so forth), and various durations. Thus, cool baths are used for toning the nervous and cardiovascular systems and for stimulating metabolism in the body. Warm baths aid in the treatment of chronic inflammatory diseases of the supportive-motor apparatus (joints, muscles, and tendons), nervous system, and other parts of the body. Baths of indifferent temperature help in the treatment of diseases of the cardiovascular system (hypertonic and hypotonic diseases), various types of neuroses, and other disorders. Hot baths are helpful in speeding up metabolism and in treating certain kidney diseases and other ailments.

Artificial mineral baths, whose effects are identical to baths of natural waters, are prepared by dissolving the necessary quantities of appropriate ingredients in water—table or sea salt for sodium chloride baths, potassium bromide and sodium iodide for iodobromide baths, and the like. Large quantities of hydrogen-sulfide water are mechanically prepared at large-capacity clinics and conveyed to the baths through viniplast pipes. Gaseous baths are prepared by saturating the hot water (60°-70° C) in the bath with the appropriate gas (CO2, O2, or N2) from a gas cylinder using a gas column or saturating apparatus (AN-7 or AN-8).

Of all hydropathic treatment, baths are the most widely used.

Baths are also used in veterinary medicine for therapeutic and prophylactic purposes. Therapeutic baths are classified as simple (freshwater) and medicinal (for example, antiparasitic). There are local and general (cold, warm, and hot) baths. Simple local baths are used for sprained tendons, contusions, and other traumas. Medicinal baths are used for eczemas, suppurative wounds, and ulcers. General medicinal baths help in the treatment of parasitic skin diseases.


Parfenov, A. P. Fizicheskie lechebnye sredstva: Rukovodstvo dlia vrachei i studentov, part 1. Leningrad, 1948.
Mugdusiev, I. P. Vodolechenie. Moscow, 1951.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in classic literature ?
This satisfied the parish officers presently, and I lay in with as much credit as I could have done if I had really been my Lady Cleve, and was assisted in my travail by three or four of the best citizens' wives of Bath who lived in the neighbourhood, which, however, made me a little the more expensive to him.
I was brought to bed of a fine boy indeed, and a charming child it was; and when he heard of it he wrote me a very kind, obliging letter about it, and then told me, he thought it would look better for me to come away for London as soon as I was up and well; that he had provided apartments for me at Hammersmith, as if I came thither only from London; and that after a little while I should go back to the Bath, and he would go with me.
This letter forced an answer from him, by which, though I found I was to be abandoned, yet I found he had sent a letter to me some time before, desiring me to go down to the Bath again.
I found it so here, though good manners and justice in this gentleman kept him from carrying it on to any extreme but the short history of his part in this affair was thus: he perceived by my last letter, and by all the rest, which he went for after, that I was not gone to Bath, that his first letter had not come to my hand; upon which he write me this following:--
I wish you would think of going back to the Bath. I enclose you here a bill for #50 for clearing yourself at your lodgings, and carrying you down, and hope it will be no surprise to you to add, that on this account only, and not for any offence given me on your side, I can see you no more.
Under these reflections I continued very pensive and sad for near month, and did not go down to the Bath, having no inclination to be with the woman whom I was with before; lest, as I thought, she should prompt me to some wicked course of life again, as she had done; and besides, I was very loth she should know I was cast off as above.
I sent my gentleman a short letter, therefore, that I had obeyed his orders in all things but that of going back to the Bath, which I could not think of for many reasons; that however parting from him was a wound to me that I could never recover, yet that I was fully satisfied his reflections were just, and would be very far from desiring to obstruct his reformation or repentance.
"Bath is a charming place, sir; there are so many good shops here.
The fate of the baths had been sealed two weeks earlier when council engineers deemed the premises unsafe for public use due to structural issues.
Only Cofis of a certain generation will remember a time when baths and toilets were not commonplace household fixtures.
Baths promote moisture and slough off dead skin cells so that your skin is smoother and less irritated.