(redirected from Hypocausts)
Also found in: Encyclopedia.


A space under the floor of an ancient Roman building through which flue gases from a furnace were passed to heat a room or a bath.

[Latin hypocaustum, from Greek hupokauston, from hupokaiein, to light a fire beneath : hupo-, hypo- + kaiein, to burn.]


(Archaeology) an ancient Roman heating system in which hot air circulated under the floor and between double walls
[C17: from Latin hypocaustum, from Greek hupokauston room heated from below, from hupokaiein to light a fire beneath, from hypo- + kaiein to burn]


(ˈhaɪ pəˌkɔst)

a hollow space or system of channels in the floor or walls of some ancient Roman buildings that provided a central heating system by distributing the heat from a furnace.
[1670–80; < Latin hypocaustum < Greek hypókauston room heated from below =hypo- hypo- + kaustón, neuter of kaustós heated, burned; see caustic]


A space beneath the floor in an ancient Roman villa in which hot air from a fire or furnace was circulated to heat the house.
References in periodicals archive ?
Evidence has been found in South Korea of ondol (underfloor) heating systems dating from around the 10th century BC Bronze Age era, while Greek and Roman methods of underfloor heating, better known as hypocausts, were widespread across Europe around 500 BC.
Almost certainly that warm period was caused by all the Centurions having inefficient wood-fuelled hot baths and not insulating their hypocausts properly.
We stood in the middle of those flat acres, 'the Old Work' - the surviving edge of the basilica rearing up into the sky like a great fist, everything else - foundations, hypocausts, baths, reduced to that neat and prosaic pattern that archaeologists leave behind.
To be as authentic as possible, it included Roman innovations such as hypocausts (underfloor heating) and a bath house with frescos.
The organist was glad to have company and played us an Elizabethan dance tune from Warlock's Capriol Suite to demonstrate both the acoustics and his prowess--the product of five decades' service to this church, abutting this invaders' wall and ghostly masonry courses recalling hypocausts, the forum, the medieval ghetto, and the precinct of Holy Bones.
A further triumph for Leoni came in 1742 when he succeeded in incorporating Inigo Jones's notes to Palladio into his third edition, adding a translation of Palladio's rarcUantichita di Roma' (63) and a chapter on hypocausts, one of Leoni's pet schemes, the Discourse on the Fires of the Ancients.
Wherever they settled, Romans always built hot-water systems called hypocausts to provide heating and hot water for their homes.
Even though historians of latter-day monstrosities--like Hitler's Germany or Stalin's Russia--are not persuaded of their subjects' virtue by architectural monuments, Rome's roads, aqueducts and hypocausts are sometimes allowed to turn an equally monstrous system of exploitation and violence--the Roman Empire--into a model of human achievement and an object of admiration.