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Decoration and Display in Rome's Imperial ThermaeMessages of Power and their Popular Reception at the Baths of Caracalla$
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Maryl B. Gensheimer

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190614782

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190614782.001.0001

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An Introduction to Baths in Rome and Methodologies of This Study

An Introduction to Baths in Rome and Methodologies of This Study

(p.1) 1 An Introduction to Baths in Rome and Methodologies of This Study
Decoration and Display in Rome's Imperial Thermae

Maryl B. Gensheimer

Oxford University Press

Given the fundamental importance of baths to daily life in ancient Rome, this chapter introduces the book and concentrates attention on the best preserved of Rome’s imperial thermae, the Baths of Caracalla, in order to unveil the cultural and sociopolitical forces that shaped monumental public spaces and their visual experience. By outlining the Baths’ architectural design and evocative decoration, this chapter foreshadows new insights into the multiple meanings underlying their embellishment and, therefore, the myriad ways in which imperial patronage can be understood. The chapter sets the stage by examining the importance of baths and bathing in ancient Rome generally before delving into the patronage of Rome’s imperial thermae and the Baths of Caracalla more specifically. Special attention is given to tracing the Baths of Caracalla’s ancient design and more modern history of excavation, as well as situating the author’s arguments and aims within recent scholarly contributions.

Keywords:   Rome, baths, thermae, Caracalla, daily life, design, construction, excavation, methodology, modern scholarship

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