The block of the Western Baths occupies, from the mid-1st c. AD, a former residential area, extended from the eastern stoa of the Hellenistic Gymnasium (Fig. II.3.1) to the cardo, which connected the south-western districts of the town with the harbour (§ II.2). The Western Baths, as well as the other public bath buildings of Kos, like the Central and Northern Baths, were conceived, at least initially, as functional integration of a gymnasium, in line with a transformation process occurring in the same period in many cities of the eastern Mediterranean, where the gymnasial institution preserves its social importance during the Imperial period, giving rise to architectural hybrids which maintain, along with fully developed bath buildings, the typical spaces of a Greek gymnasium. Due to the irregularity of the area, the layout concentrates on the block inside the main rooms, regular in shape, while on the west edge the service areas, irregular, are arranged (Fig. II.3.2). To the north, a large square, probably an outdoor court, was the frigidarium and led from the Baths to the Gymnasium. Further south, three rooms with traces of heating equipment had to be tepidaria. The core is finally formed by a large caldarium, heated by praefurnia placed in service areas arranged on its south, east and west external sides. As for the internal paths, the building is of the row type, according with Krencker’s definition, developed along the longitudinal axis of a block arrangement; the scheme is not so rational because forces bathers to retrace their steps. The pattern is strictly symmetrical, in line with a trend interpreted as “Hellenistic”. Good comparisons for the Western Baths are the contemporary Central Bath of Kos and the Capito Baths in Miletus, dated to the reign of Nero, which show an axial pattern of internal paths. After the earthquake of 142 AD, the Central Baths show extensive renovations (Fig. II.3.5): at this stage, the construction of a new large room, which partially occupies the space of the old open-air court, across the entire width of the thermal building, is documented. It is a majestic rectangular hall with apses, a basilica thermarum, serving also as an apodyterium. The access to baths during this time had to be in the north-east, opposite the monumental latrine-nymphaeum built across the cardo in this period, but a passage on the opposite side would undoubtedly be left to allow access also from the gymnasium, where right now a large natatio is built (Figs. II.3.5-6). As for the internal paths, the general sense of the project is clearly to transform the pattern from the original axial scheme in the new double ring one; this is much more efficient, because allows to separate the flows, now independent, eliminating the users’ need to retrace their steps to exit from the bath building. In this phase, south of the main Baths, another thermal bath is constructed, saturating the space so far remained free between the baths and the house of Hellenistic-Roman times to the south. The new bath building is simpler, with smaller dimensions and completely independent from the first one; the building seems not to have had any relationship with the gymnasium, making possible the hypothesis that it was a balneum frequented by women. A significant restructuring concerns the bath complex towards the end of the 3rd or the beginning of the 4th c. AD (Fig. II.3.7). Because of the strong amount of reused materials in the walls, the intervention appears to be due to some destructive seismic action. Following a coeval tendency, the warm rooms sector is substantially expanded, adding for example a new warm room south of the smaller bath building. The new hall, octagonal in shape and probably roofed with a vault, find comparisons in 3rd - 4th c. examples like the Antonine Bath of Carthage, the Hunting Baths of Lepcis Magna, the Baths of Maxentius on Palatine Hill, at Rome, and the Bath C of Antiocheia. Several praefurnia were arranged along the west wall, testifying the definitive disposal of the old gymnasium. The phenomenon is in line with a general trend noticeable throughout the eastern Mediterranean basin in this period, when the connection with the Hellenistic gymnasium and its functions seems to disappear and so the use of the palaestra. Probably as a result of the earthquake of the second half of the 5th c., the Western Baths were no more restored and their large areas soon acquired new functions in the context of the Christian city (§ II.4).
Livadiotti, Monica (Corresponding)
|Titolo:||Il complesso termale|
|Titolo del libro:||Archeologia protobizantina a Kos: la città e il complesso episcopale|
|Nome editore:||Bononia University Press|
|Data di pubblicazione:||2015|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||2.1 Contributo in volume (Capitolo o Saggio)|