The history of the humble bed

bronze_age_bed_lg.jpg

According to Wikipedia, the earliest forms of beds were piles of straw, leaves or animal skins. In some instances dried bracken was used. What’s bracken? It’s a fern. A tall one. Archeologists found bedding dating back to 77, 000 BC, in the Sibudu Cave in northern KwaZulu-Natal.

gathering-sedgesThose early beds had sedge and other monocotyledons topped with the leaves of is locally known as the Cape quince.

It’s a shrub or small forest tree that packs easily to provide a comfy base.

Then, in 3,200 BC, researchers found rudimentary beds that were raised off the ground, made of stone and packed with a variety of naturally occurring fillers.

 

 

bronze age bed lgBut it was the Egyptians who took things to, literally, a new level. Beds in Egypt were found to have high bedsteads which were ascended by steps, with bolsters or pillows, and curtains to hang around. According to Wiki, the elite of Egyptian society (pharaohs and queens) even had beds made of wood that were sometimes gilded. A head-rest was not uncommon and many were carved out of stone, wood, or metal.

Ancient Assyrians, Medes, and Persians had beds of a similar kind, and frequently decorated their furniture with inlays or appliqués of metal, mother-of-pearl, and ivory.

From then on, mattresses were filled with reeds, hay, or even wool. Feathers were introduced as a form of luxury. Small cushions were placed at the head.

ancient-roman-feastIt was the Ancient Romans who introduced purpose for beds.

For example a chamber bed was designated for normal sleeping and rest, a marriage bed was decorated and placed strategically, and a table bed allowed people to lie on their sides and eat.

There was even a bed for studying and of course a bed on which to lay the dead on.

 

manter-o-foco-nos-estudosThese days, bar laying a deceased person on, one bed serves all the above functions.

There are even beds that allow one side to be raised and lowered according to what activity one wishes to do.

And there you have it. The comprehensive history of the humble bed. You’re welcome.