The Roman Thermae

Towards the southern end of the cliff, the remains of an ancient construction were partially discovered and researched in 1964. Due to the nature of the construction materials and the architectural style, it has been proven that this used to be a public bath, which was linked to the Roman Mosaic Edifice.

It was most likely built at the same time as the Roman Mosaic Edifice, and the complex had multiple rooms and chambers (vestibulae), which have been in most part destroyed by modern building works. Despite all of this, the main hall of the building was preserved, together with vestibule provided with a connecting staircase between the building and the level of the town. 30 m long and 10 m wide, the main hall was paved with large marble tiles (60 x 40 x 4 cm). The researchers believe that the Roman public baths at Tomis had an area of several hectares.
The east longitudinal wall, built with the back to the cliff, is relatively well preserved (maximum height is 5.40 m). It consists, in fact, of two walls worked in alternating rows of bricks and limestone blocks, in the style of “opus mixtum“. The walls stood 0.5 m apart from one another and had multiple holes in order to facilitate the flow of air. Both walls also were protected against mold and provided the effective maintaining of hot air. The underground installations that produce hot temperatures are called “hypocaust”.
What is remarkable is the mortar used in the construction which is made from a mixture of limestone dust,brick and ceramic residues. It had water-repellent properties and a consistency that has been withstanding for more than 1700 years since its realization.

From the central hall of the thermal baths, through one of the entrances on the south side, it was there was a large vestibule (cca.60 m²) scari paved with stone slabs, from where a wide staircase climbs to the city level. Below the stairs there is an annexed room, with its arched roof, made of bricks.

In the space outside the building, along the entire length of the western wall (destroyed up to the level of the floor in the modern period) were found the ceramic tubes of the underground heating system. The hot air and steam produced in this installation were equally heating the walls of the building (in the south wall were found ceramic tubes through which heated air circulated), and in the substructure of the walls were discovered several channels with the same destination.

A very important element in knowing the functionality of this complex is given by the discovery of an inscription on the architrave of the framing of the east entrance leading to a small room under the staircase. The room is known in the specialized literature under the name “Lentiarion“, the place where the linen sheets (linum) used for the proper functioning of the bathrooms were kept. Deciphering the inscription in Greek allowed the conclusion that the present edifice housed one of the public baths of the city, whose annexes had been lifted by the personal expense of a citizen named Hermippos, which was Attas’s son.

Sadly, little is known about the thermal construction on itself. Many of the rooms and compartments are hidden under the town’s cliff. However, the dimensions of the rooms allow the reconstruction, in an imaginary way, of the monumental architectural proportions of the building.

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