Skip to content
The First Purpose-Built Showers Are Older Than You Think

The First Purpose-Built Showers Are Older Than You Think

Showering is a delightfully simple everyday pleasure as you get ready for work or get ready to go to bed. The water dancing and bouncing off your skin and steam evaporating off of the glass hardware is both enjoyable and an efficient way to clean.

Whilst there will be eternal debates as to whether baths or showers are more enjoyable, showers, through the action of the falling water are more efficient for use when washing and needed less water than the average bath.

Interestingly, the first showers in history, are much older than you may think and date back to the earliest civilisations.

 

Nature’s Shower

Depending on how you define a shower, arguably the very first shower in history was not invented by any given civilisation but the Earth itself, as waterfalls were commonly used by early bathers as a way to rinse people clean.

Whilst man-made baths were a fairly early invention, they required water to be transported to the bath and away from it in an age before running water.

Soon, however, ancient people would replicate the effect of a waterfall by pouring jugs of water on themselves after washing to rinse themselves off to copy the same effect.

 

The Dawn Of The Shower Room

In early civilisations, such as ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, people in the upper parts of society had the first-ever shower rooms.

It must be noted, however, that without any kind of sophisticated plumbing or draining system, this amounted to a room with a hole in the floor where servants would wash them.

Despite this, the idea would very quickly evolve, and with the Greeks developing the first-ever aqueducts made using lead pipes, the first-ever communal shower houses were constructed and were a common part of pottery art found in the era.

In terms of design, these shower rooms looked very similar to the stacks of showers found in locker rooms, including places to sit and places to hang clothing up.

The Roman Thermae followed a very similar principle and became a critical part of Ancient Roman culture and society. Whilst the most famous example is possibly found in the city of Bath, they were a common sight across the Roman Empire, especially on the coast of the Mediterranean.

Because a bathhouse visit was often a lengthy endeavour involving many different rooms and stages, the thermae became a major cornerstone of Roman communities, with people meeting up with friends, politicians meeting up with people in their community as well as branch libraries.

The Romans were also one of the first civilisations to advocate for regular bathing, as often as every day, although unfortunately as the Roman Empire fractured and broke apart from 395AD onwards, these showers as well as the rest of their infrastructure broke with it.

 

The Birth of The Modern Shower

It would take over a millennium for showers to re-emerge as a way to bathe, starting with William Feetham, who used a pump system to force water into a basin above the head of the bather, which could be dumped on them using a pulley chain.

Whilst this was not a success, by 1810 there were more popular showers that closely resemble the showers of today.

Previous article A Few Interesting Facts About The History Of Glass