Do You Know the World’s Oldest Swimming Pool?
the great bath

If you had to guess how old the world’s oldest swimming pool is, what would you say? 50 years old? 100 years old? 1,000? You’d be wrong, because the Great Bath has been around since the 3rd Millennium BC. That’s over 5,000 years ago. Believe it or not, it’s been kept pretty clean.

A surviving part of some ancient ruins in the Indus Valley at Mohenjo-daro, Pakistan, is home to this marvel. Considering its location, it should be little surprise that it was made by the ancient Indus Valley civilization. They were a Bronze Age civilization in the northwestern regions of South Asia, covering the land occupied by several different countries and cultures. We believe they existed from around 3300 BCE to 1300 BCE, which would have been when they made the Great Bath.

The location, Mohenjo-daro, was one of the ancient civilization’s main centers, and it’s filled with baths and homes with washrooms. Though it also included a sewage system, and it’s clear they valued cleanliness, the Great Bath was not for bathing. 

Fun facts about the Great Bath

  • The swimming pool measures 38.9 feet (12 meters) by 23 feet (7 meters) and goes as deep as 7.9 feet (2.4 meters). We don’t expect to hear stories about people diving or swimming through it, but they could have.
  • The swimming pool is made with bricks and a coat of bitumen. We still use these materials to build our houses and roads, so this pool was built to last.
  • Historians believe the Great Bath had been used for religious functions such as purification. The Great Bath actually has significant, religious importance to the people who made it.
  • There’s no inlet drain to be found anywhere in the pool, which means it’s unlikely to have been filled by any water system. This has led many to think the Great Bath was modified at some point in history, or more likely relied on water from rain and wells, possibly a water room close by. That’s a lot of trips with the bucket to fill this pool. 

Purification and Renewal

As mentioned, the prevailing theory is that this bath was used for purification. While it’s fun to think that they could swim laps around this pool, it’s unlikely.

People likely came to see their souls, or some spiritual equivalent, purified, seeking a renewing feeling. Almost like a form of therapy, not completely unlike a spa. If it were meant to be heated, we could have called it the oldest spa in the world instead of just one of the coolest pools. 

It speaks to the importance of taking care of oneself, and using water to do it. 

Get a Pool (or Spa) for Yourself

For thousands of years, people have used big personal bodies of water as places to swim through. It’s clearly meant to be if we still do it. 

If not a pool for your personal enjoyment, maybe a spa for your health would make more sense. Here at Aqua Leisure Pools and Spas, we have a huge selection of pools and spas across three locations in NEPA. There’s no better time to contact us or come check it out.