| In the Field

Monuments of Aphrodisias

The Hadrianic Baths

The baths were built in the early second century CE and dedicated to the emperor Hadrian (ruled AD 117-138). They are located at the west end of the South Agora and consist of two main parts: a series of barrel-vaulted bathing chambers and a great colonnaded forecourt with grand marble architecture. The complex contains changing rooms for men and women, a cold room, lukewarm room, and hot room. The vaulted chambers are built of massive limestone blocks covered with marble revetment; the floors and pools are lined with marble, and the hot rooms have floors raised on hypocausts. The massive limestone walls have been standing since antiquity, and the inside of the chambers and the forecourt were excavated in 1904-5 and in the 1960s.

The baths were an important centre of public life designed for cultured relaxation. They were carefully maintained throughout antiquity and were still functioning as baths in the 6th century when they continued to attract wealthy sponsorship for their redecoration. The architectural decoration of the forecourt is grand and of the highest quality, and a striking quantity of the best figured sculpture from the site was found here -- both portrait statues and mythological statues. The complex was both a bathing facility and a museum of marble statuary.