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Egyptian Headrest

Egyptian Headrest (Vatican Museum): Egyptian furniture

Did Egyptian houses have furniture?

Most Egyptian houses didn’t have much furniture in them. The floor was plain dirt or clay. People slept on woven straw mats.

History of straw
Egyptian houses
History of houses
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They didn’t have pillows. Sometimes they used wooden stands to rest their heads on when they were sleeping (no, really they did!).

Straw basket from New Kingdom Egypt

Straw basket from New Kingdom Egypt (Vatican Museum, Rome)

Mats, stools, and baskets

During the daytime, if they were inside, people sat on the mats too. Or they sat on small wooden stools. Often people took the mats or stools out to their courtyard. They ate squatting or sitting on the ground or on mats. They held their bowl in their hand or put it on a low stool.

History of baskets
Basket-making project

Egyptians usually kept their extra clothes and toys in straw baskets like this one.

Egyptian chair

Egyptian chair (Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Rich people had wooden chairs to sit on. They also slept on wooden beds with thick string pulled tightly across them and straw pads on top. There were only single beds – no double beds yet.
The reason only rich people had wooden furniture was that there are very few trees growing in Egypt. They had to bring most of the wood on ships from Lebanon, where there were trees.

Environment of Egypt

So wood was very expensive in Egypt. Most people had to use straw to make their furniture – straw mats and baskets.

Learn by doing: a day in ancient Egypt
More about straw
And about baskets
More about Egyptian houses

Bibliography and further reading about Egyptian architecture:

Make This Egyptian Temple (Usborne Cut-Out Models), by Iain Ashman (1999)

Pyramid, by David Macaulay (1982).

The Art and Architecture of Ancient Egypt (Yale University Press Pelican History of Art), by William Stevenson Smith and William Kelly Simpson (revised edition 1999). The standard for college courses.

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