It may surprise some to learn that showers really only hit their stride in 1970’s. In the 1800’s the bathtub was the most widely used bathing method. Indeed, the phrase “don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater” stems from actual occurrences. But it may surprise some to learn that bathing technology was far more advanced 2,000 years ago, when the Romans engineered bathtubs that could be heated and drained by irrigation.
A Look at the Past
In the times of the Romans, every wealthy patrician owned a house equipped with a bathing room. Basically it was a room with a bathtub that had a trap door leading to a space under the tub where hot coals could heat the water above. Of course, maintenance of such a bathtub required slaves, which every patrician owned. The bathtub would remain heated for a week straight before the water was eventually drained for hygienic purposes. When it came time for draining, a special duct protruding from the tub connected to an irrigation channel outside the Roman home facilitated the endeavor. The tub was then filled by another irrigation channel that brought water in. Essentially, this irrigation channel operated by the laws of physics, meaning a pipe was simply positioned at a downward slope so that water could flow freely.
The 1800’s gave birth to the overhead shower. It is said that the idea came to the inventor while standing under a waterfall amidst a hot summer day. However, the shower was not initially popular because it was too expensive, and required advanced plumbing that most plumbers were ill equipped to handle. Currently, the shower is considered a necessity of everyday life. Only in third world countries do people live in homes without a working overhead shower. No doubt the overhead shower is lauded by all plumbers.