Luxuries of the Bath

Garth Fowden

in Qusayr 'Amra

Published by University of California Press

Published in print September 2004 | ISBN: 9780520236653
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520929609 | DOI:
Luxuries of the Bath

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Quṣayr 'Amra makes relatively little use of gypsum. The use that was made of all the buildings depended, primarily, on their water supply. Since Quṣayr 'Amra lacks the large reservoirs that are so characteristic of other sites in the steppe and desert, it is unclear to what extent its irregular water supply could be stored and spread out over dry periods. In this chapter, it is noted that Quṣayr 'Amra's heyday was brief. Even during that short period, the bath house may have been used only seasonally. Among the bath's more bodily pleasures, athletic exercise had long been assigned an honored place by Greeks and Romans. Among the features of Quṣayr 'Amra that have always caught the attention of art historians is the abundance of naked, mainly female flesh displayed. The poetic and musical culture its depictions of entertainers and decorative women allude to was thoroughly Arab, even if it had analogues elsewhere.

Keywords: Quṣayr 'Amra; water supply; bath house; naked; entertainers; decorative women; art historians

Chapter.  17781 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Greek and Roman Archaeology

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