Hygiene is integral to Middle Eastern culture. Consider the fact that we are one of the only peoples to "congratulate" each other for being clean (na3iman).
And then consider the fact that we have a long, rich and proud history to begin with and you have...an Arab history of bathtime.
1. Bathhouses first came to us from Greece via Rome
Greek mythology specified that certain natural springs or tidal pools were blessed by the gods to cure illnesses. Thus, the Greeks established bathing facilities around these sacred pools.
The invention of the Roman Thermae (hot baths) followed that of the Greeks, while surpassing them in size and additional services (haircuts, food and wine).
The bathhouse was considered the place for social and recreational activity.
2. The expansion of the Roman Empire led to the spread of the hamam to the Mediterranean
The Romans had ruled Istanbul for several centuries, up until 1450 when the Ottomans conquered the city.
The Turk Ottomans brought their own bathing customs and traditions, but encountered the Roman bath habits, merging the two together.
A new cleansing ritual came about, that is the hamam (spreader of warmth), which conformed to the requirements and rules of Islam in the way they were structured and formed.
3. Hamams gained religious significance
The hamam soon became an annex to the mosque, mainly for its compliance with the Islamic laws of hygiene and purification (ablution).
Damascus, the world's oldest capital, once had 365 hamams, one for each day of the year. In addition to religious activity, the bathhouses were considered to be an integral part of community life.
4. The hamam was a place for socializing
"Your town is only a perfect town when there is a bath in it," said Abu Sir, an early Arab historian.
According to historians, people chose public bathing to show the people of the town they were clean.
5. The hamam is considered the oldest surving bath tradition in the world
9. A typical hamam consists of three basic, interconnected rooms
Like the Roman bathhouses, a typical hamam consists of three rooms:
1. The hot room (caldarium)
2. The warm room (tepidarium)
3. And the cool room (frigidarium)
However, what differs in the sequence and usage of these rooms.