What Were Pools Called in Ancient Greece?

In ancient Greece, pools were not just a source of recreation but also had religious significance. They were an important part of Greek culture and were used for various purposes.

However, the term “pool” was not used to describe these water bodies. So what were they called?

The Greeks referred to pools as “piscinae”. These were artificial reservoirs or basins that stored water.

The term “piscina” is derived from the Latin word “piscis”, which means fish. This is because originally, these basins were created for fish farming and later repurposed for other uses.

Piscinae were constructed using different materials such as stone, marble, and even lead. They were often decorated with intricate mosaics or sculptures and surrounded by lush gardens. Piscinae served a variety of functions in ancient Greece including:

Religious Ceremonies

Piscinae played a significant role in ancient Greek religion. The Greeks believed that water had purifying properties and was essential for spiritual cleansing. Therefore, piscinae were used for various religious ceremonies such as baptisms, offerings, and sacrifices.

Sporting Events

Piscinae were also used for sporting events such as swimming competitions. These events were highly competitive and attracted large crowds. The most famous swimming competition was the Olympic Games held in Olympia.


Public baths were an important part of Greek culture as hygiene was considered crucial for good health. Piscinae were often incorporated into public bathhouses to provide a source of clean water.


Piscinae were also used in architectural design to create stunning visual effects like reflecting pools or fountains.

In conclusion, piscinae played a vital role in ancient Greek society and culture despite being referred to by a different name than the modern term “pool”. These artificial reservoirs served a variety of purposes from religious ceremonies to sporting events and hygiene. The Greeks’ appreciation for water as a purifying element is evident in their use of piscinae in their everyday life.