West Asian Beds - Ancient West Asia
Welcome to Quatr.us Study Guides!

West Asian Beds

Ohalo bed
Drawing of the grass bed inside a reed hut
from Ohalo II (Galilee, 21000 BC)

When people came to West Asia from Africa about 60,000 BC, they seem to have brought the idea of sleeping in beds with them. People in Galilee (modern Israel) seem to have been sleeping in beds in the Paleolithic time period, about 21,000 BC. While earlier African beds were arrangements of leaves and grasses, these West Asian beds were made of grass covered with a thin coating of clay.

Sumerian bed
Sumerian toy model of a bed from Ur (ca. 2000 BC)

By the time of the Sumerians, people were using beds that looked a lot like yours. Sleeping higher up off the ground was warmer in cold weather, and protected you from bugs in warm weather. People lay bundles of reeds across a mud-brick platform to make a bed, with a woven reed mat on top. A lot of poor people just slept right on these reed mats, but richer people had linen sheets and wool blankets to make their beds more comfortable.

Assurbanipal at Nineveh
Nineveh, ca. 650 BC

A little more than a thousand years later, about 650 BC, the Assyrian king Assurbanipal had a fancier couch to lie on - he has a blanket, and soft pillows under his elbow, and his bedframe is made of fancy carved wood. He also has slaves waving reeds to keep the bugs off him! Like the Greeks and the Etruscans about the same time, King Assurbanipal isn't sleeping in his bed - he's eating and drinking wine. And like the Greeks (but not the Etruscans), women don't rate couches. His wife, the queen, is sitting in a chair next to him.

Bibliography and further reading about ancient West Asia:

Chinese houses and furniture
Roman houses and furniture
West Asian Architecture
Ancient West Asia
Quatr.us home

LIMITED TIME OFFER FOR TEACHERS: Using this article with your class? Show us your class page where you're using this article, and we'll send you a free subscription so all your students can use Quatr.us Study Guides with no distractions! (Not a teacher? Paid subscriptions are also available for just $16/year!)
Please help other teachers and students find us: link to this page from your class page.
Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.
Cite this page
  • Author: K.E. Carr
  • Title:
  • Site Name: Quatr.us Study Guides
  • Publisher: Quatr.us
  • Date Published:
Did you find what you needed? Ask your teacher to link to this page so other people can use it too! Send it in and win a Quatr.us "Great Page!" award!
Sign up for more free articles and special offers in Quatr.us' weekly newsletter:
We will never share your e-mail address unless you allow us to do so. View our privacy policy. Easy unsubscribe links are provided in every email.
Comment on This Article

Does your class page honor diversity, celebrate feminism, and support people of color, LBGTQ people, and people with disabilities? Let us know, and we'll send you a Diversity Banner you can proudly display!
Looking for more?
Quatr.us is loading comments...
(Comments will appear after moderation, if they are kind and helpful. Feel free to ask questions, and we'll try to answer them.)
Cite this page
  • Carr, K.E. . Quatr.us Study Guides, . Web. 28 April, 2017