If you are like most people living in the modern world, you turn on your shower each day without giving it much thought. Although it’s a common feature of most homes, showers were not always available. You will soon discover how humans first got the idea of the shower and how it made its way into nearly every home in the developed world. The truth surprises many people because they did not know what to expect.
The First Shower
Taking a look at the first shower requires us to go back in time further than you might think. Early showers existed back in the days of ancient tribes, but they did not have plumbing. Rather than using technology, those tribes stepped into waterfalls to clean the dirt from their hair and bodies. For tribes that moved or did not live near a waterfall, people had to make long journeys to get themselves clean, and the trend was limited to warm climates.
As the years passed, more people than ever started to realize the benefits of washing with fresh, clean water. When the ancient Egyptians wanted to freshen up, they relied on servants to fill buckets of water and to pour it on them. They would require the servants to travel to private wells or rivers to collect enough water to get the job done. In many cases, more than one servant would stand above a member of royalty to perform the service. Because the water was cold, some people opted not to shower with this method.
Before and After the Black Death
Before the Black Death wiped out a large chunk of the population, people still viewed showering as vain. In their minds, it was only something that rich people and royalty did to highlight their status. The ancient Greeks were among the first civilizations in recorded history to connect pipes for flowing water.
Not everyone had access to showers at this point, so those of high status would congregate at bathhouses to enjoy the benefits. Even those who had access to bathhouses would sometimes decline to use them because they did not see the need, but everything changed after the Black Death. The pandemic that impacted many lives opened people’s eyes to the advantages of staying clean, and many more people searched for ways to shower.
The First Shower Patent
Although ancient and tribal people took showers on a regular basis, the patent did not come around until 1767. William Feetham is the one who held the first shower patent, and his invention was a water tank powered by a pump. Since modern plumbing was still far away, the few who owned showers had servants bring water to fill the tanks and to power the pumps. People with resources would use a furnace or fireplace to heat the water before washing themselves. It did not take long for showers to become more popular than bathtubs since they did not need as much water.
The First Designer Shower
The first designer shower, the English Regency, was born in the early 19th century and was a metal frame that builders painted to resemble bamboo. Those who wanted to use it had to fill the tank with water and operate a pump. When indoor plumbing gained momentum in 1850, showers became much more common and easy to use. What once required a lot of work was now possible by only turning a valve.
The concept of showers existed as far back as ancient tribes who stood under waterfalls, but the modern shower did not appear until much later. Royalty and those with a lot of resources were the only ones to use the first showers, but indoor plumbing later made it possible for almost everyone to have one.
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