The Original Entrance

Doc Paget named this area ‘The Original Entrance’ because he was following a train of thought that before the Romans or any baths were built here, originally there was to the side a Greek cella, an early type of temple. The argument for this possibility will be developed more on the Greek Temple page of this website.

Occupying a space only 2.44 metres (8 feet) wide, what Paget called the Original Entrance had, in Roman times, been given a raised hypocaust floor which stood on the terracotta pillars called ‘suspensurae’ which we can see still intact in some places. This was a distinct hot room separated from the Tholos sudatorium to its right, but the two rooms were connected and once formed part of the same Roman bath suite, ‘Le Piccole Terme’.

In its later use as a small Roman bath, there was no connection to the Greek Temple to its left and nowhere for there ever to have been one, because of a deep trench, the entrance to the tunnel complex. directly behind the wall. Bathers could remain completely unaware of what was there.

The façade shows several arched silhouettes against the cliff face, lined in diamond patterned ‘opus reticulatum’ (shaped tufa cubes, pointed at the back, set into wet cement). A small amount of decorated stucco remains in the top left corner of the vaulted recess which is set about 0.9 metres (3 feet) back from the main facade.

On closer inspection metal staples or sprags can be seen set into the opus reticulatum, which once held a false façade, now missing.

Possibly the Original Entrance to a Greek Cella
Possibly the Original Entrance to a Greek Cella
Later conversion to a heated bath
 Later Roman conversion to a heated bath

Where is the Heat Source?

As with the area behind the Tholos, so it is the conventional story here too that heat for this bath must have come from the tunnel in the hillside, a long, long, way away from its modest source 270 metres away.

The two adjacent pictures show a funnel section at the back of the bath area. Set into the floor is a buried pipe with a drainage lip cemented onto it. It seems likely that the funnel was for regulating the heat, while the drainage lip is for liquid condensation.

The Answer

The picture below shows that a suitable channel exists for hot steam entry, in the wall adjacent to the Tholos, which likewise obtained its heat from the front of the building, not from inside the hill.

The hot steam inlet for the Original Entrance
The hot steam inlet for the Original Entrance baths

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