Regular cleanliness started during the first quarter of the 19th century. Before then, water was rare, and bathing was thought by certain fanatics to be killing their soul. The only reference I’ve found that fully goes into this history in a descriptive manner is a college history book.
Bathing has been a recorded part of certain societies as far back as ancient India, Egypt and Mesopotamia. While these were simple baths, the first real showers required plumbing, which was utilized by the Ancient Greeks. An Athenian vase from the 4th Century B.C. shows Ancient Greeks taking showers. Piped in water flows from above their heads and you can see a form of towels hanging above the showers on a rack.
The Romans were known to have bathing as a daily social activity. People would gather in the bathhouses to share gossip, eat food, etc.
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