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Garni 10: Roman Baths

Roman Baths

The Bath House is located at an angle to the residential block and is encased in a modern shed. Built of irregular blocks set in lime, the 3rd century building consisted of five rooms, four of which had apses.

A dressing room (apoditerium) (1) at the eastern end is followed by a cold water bath (frigidarium) (2), a warm room (tepidarium) (3) and a hot water room (caldarium) (4), and steam room (5)

The Steam room or sudatorium (from the Latin sudor or sweat) sometimes called the laconicum (from the Spartan Greek), typical of traditional Roman baths was a dry-heat room that lay off the caldarium, sometimes in a niche.

The builders used a water reservoir and a heating system popular in Rome, known as hypocaust. Hot air from the furnace circulated through an underground passage lined with baked clay bricks under the floors, which were also lined with baked bricks covered with polished stucco and mosaic tile.

Hot air first accumulated underneath the caldarium then passed undern the te[idarium, then, cooled, through two small passages under the cold room. The floors were laid on brick supports that also captured heat from the furnace evenly passing the heat up into the various rooms.

Other bath houses of this type were found in Syria and Asia Minor, notably the bathhouses in Mtskheta-Armazi (2nd-3rd centuries) in Georgia, in Dura-Europos and in Antioch on the Orontes coast (3rd century).

Fragments of colored plasterwork have survived in several of the rooms, showing a two row design; a white lower layer and a pink upper layer.

The 3rd-4th centuries floor mosaics are perhaps the most impressive part of the bath house, the only surviving intact mosaic in Armenia. They are made from stones in 15 hues and depict figures in mythology. That in the main mosaic (2.91 x 3.14 m) depicts a water scene with the sea goddess Thetis and other mythological figures set against a light green background. The inscriptions on the mosaic are Greek but the facial types are oriental, depicting fish, Nereids and the Ichthyocentauri.

One of the remaining inscriptions on the floor mosaic is in Koine Greek (the popular form of Greek that emerged in post-classical antiquity from ca. 300 BCE to ca. 300 CE) and reads:

ΜΗΔΕΝ ΛΑΒΟΝΤΕΣ ΗΡΙΑΣΑΜΕΘΑ ΚΑΝΕΝΑ ΝΕΚΡΟ ΔΕ ΜΑΣ ΕΔΩΣΕ Η ΘΑΛΑΣΣΑ ΟΥΤΕ Ο ΩΚΕΑΝΟΣ (We receive no dead (fish) from the sea neither from the ocean)

Which can also be translated to mean, “Worked without pay".

The text was edited by ICOMOS/Armenia NGO.