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Keeping Cool

Ideas From Ancient History on Keeping Cool


The period known as the "Dog Days" of summer occurs from early July into mid-August. The Romans gave this period the name "dies canincula" or dog days because the dog star Sirius rises and sets with the sun during this time. They conjectured that the combined effect of the star and the sun was what made it so oppressively warm and humid.
- From www.intellicast.com/almanac/jul/ Intellicast
Days of oppressive temperatures and humidity, with heat indices around 100° F, suddenly surrender to intense, evening lightning or hail storms. Ice pellet pocks texturize windows and cars. Tree detritus lines every park path. Rivers overflow. Or it's the opposite: the lakes dry up completely and drought restrictions are in effect. That's summer -- at least where I live. Water has always helped people keep cool in the summer, but then as now some cooling systems were only available to the rich or powerful.

Greco-Roman Snow

From Ancient Inventions

Defying Nature

The colorful, excessive, Emperor Elagabalus built a mountain of snow in his summer garden as an early, extravagant attempt at keeping cool.

Early Snow Cones?

Even normal Greeks and Roman bought snow and ice imported on donkey trains. Few could afford private ice houses. Most urban residents bought it at snow shops. In Rome deep pits were filled with snow and covered with straw. Water melted and ran through forming a bottom layer of ice that sold at a premium. Snow could be more expensive than wine.



In the third and fourth centuries B.C., Chou emperors had a staff of 94 providing ice service.

Near East

There were ice houses in the Near East as early as 1700 B.C. when Zimri-Lin, a ruler of Mari (an important city on the Euphrates), boasted of having constructed the first ice house on the Euphrates.


Alexander the Great built the first Greek ice house.


Nero falsely claimed to have created the first wine cooler.

Next: Shade, Water For Cooling, House Construction

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