My husband and I just ordered a new king-sized bed and it was surprisingly difficult to find the kind we wanted, so I got curious about how beds (and more generally, sleep habits) have changed throughout history. There was more variation than I expected.
- King Tut had a folding camping bed with a three-fold "z" mechanism.
- In Mesoamerica, hammocks and mats on low platforms were common places to sleep.
- The first water-filled beds were goatskins filled with water, used in Persia more than 3,600 years ago.
- Roman mattresses were made of cloth and stuffed were hay and wool, or, for the rich: feathers.
- The huoqiang, which is basically a flat, rectangular stone fireplace that is heated up and then cleaned out before someone sleeps on top of it, is still in use in some parts of modern China.
Ashy Grass Beds
As much as 200,000 years ago, people were mixing campfire ash with sedge leaves and aromatic grasses to create bug-repellent bedding in Africa. [Read More]
Heirloom Four Poster
A bed would have been the prized possession of women in high and late medieval cities. They were even given to a woman's eldest daughter upon her marriage. [Read More]
The Aka people, who are foragers, build their (wooden) houses only big enough for a hearth fire and a bed, and wake up often to tend the fire. Their houses are situated closely together. [Read More]
The Bedroom Office
People in ancient Egypt typically arranged their houses for multi-functional purposes, and their beds probably doubled as an seating and status indicators for high-level meetings. [Read More]