As we referenced in a previous post on the history of the shower, people were much too busy working on developing a practical form of showering for most of human history to be thinking about something as advanced – and as attractive – as frameless glass shower enclosures and frameless shower doors.
We covered the earliest advancements in showering, which took us from waterfalls to having someone pour a jug of water over your head, in our first blog post on the History of Showering. Obviously, we still have a long way to go.
It’s All Greek to Me
In A Short History of Showering, Kaushik Patowary tells us about the ancient Greeks who, thanks to aqueducts and advances in plumbing, had indoor showers. They weren’t installed in people’s homes, though. Communal bathing was done at what they called gymnasiums. “Jets of cold water cascaded from the ceiling while bathers stood under it.” Note that there still was no such thing as a hot shower.
The ancient Romans had showers in their bathhouses, too. Evidence of them can exists in Roman ruins found around the Mediterranean and in modern-day England.
When the Roman Empire collapsed, the popularity of communal bathing did, too. But just because people didn’t want to be naked and vulnerable in public during those turbulent times, it doesn’t mean they didn’t want to be clean. At least occasionally.
“While public baths fell out of use in Mediaeval times, contrary to popular belief, sanitation did not,” Patowary writes. “Indeed, the crusaders brought soap back from the far East to Europe, and soapmaking first became an established trade during the so-called ‘Dark Ages.’ What was lost was the sophisticated water and sewage systems developed by the Greeks and the Romans. People went back to bathing in wooden tubs.”
You could say that was two steps forward and one step back in the development of the modern shower, but it’s really more like two steps forward, two steps back. Never fear, though, the spirit of innovation that would eventually lead to the creation of ultra-sleek, ultra-modern frameless shower doors and frameless glass railings would rise again.