In Antioch and its hinterland during late antiquity, Christian leaders frequently attacked baths and the activities that took place within them. Despite efforts to anathematize their use and to discourage their construction, baths remained important social and civic fixtures in both large cities and in semi-rural settlements continuously into the Islamic period. This survival, documented in archaeological and literary sources, offers a means to trace divergent attitudes towards their roles against their changing physical forms. Baths could be understood as places of luxury, yet also in early Christian perspectives understood by the evils produced by their excesses, while their construction could commemorate local civic patronage. Yet it is the notion of bathing as a means to promote hygiene and healing that survived to become dominant, adopted as the primary feature of baths in hagiographic texts in the fifth and sixth centuries, and further echoed in the physical transition into new smaller, more austere forms.

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