How old is bathing?

Humans have probably been bathing since the Stone Age, not least because the vast majority of European caves that contain Palaeolithic art are short distances from natural springs.

How old is bathing? © Getty Images

By the Bronze Age, beginning around 5,000 years ago, washing had become very important.


Ancient Egyptian priests were fastidiously clean, but arguably the greatest washers were the Harappan people living in the Indus Valley, in modern-day southeast Asia.

Their city of Mohenjo-daro (‘Mound of the Dead’) boasted a ‘Great Bath’, covering over 80 metres in area, which was likely a ritual space for religious bathing.

This was perhaps not open to all ranks of society, but throughout Harappan cities, there were also wells and bathing platforms for the masses.

At Mohenjo-Daro, one building was discovered with an underground furnace, possibly so baths could be heated.


Indeed, the Harappans were obsessed with water, and had sophisticated hygienic infrastructure to deliver it to and from their homes.

This article was first published in the October 2015 issue of History Revealed and answered by one of our Q&A experts, Greg Jenner.