Egyptian furniture – Straw mats and baskets

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Egyptian Headrest

Egyptian Headrest (Vatican Museum)

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

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

Egyptian chair

Egyptian chair (Metropolitan Museum of Art)

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. 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.

More about Egyptian houses
More about Ancient Egypt home

By |2018-04-09T23:55:19+00:00June 13th, 2017|History|0 Comments
Cite this page: Carr, K.E. Egyptian furniture – Straw mats and baskets. Study Guides, June 13, 2017. Web. November 13, 2018.

About the Author:

Dr. 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, Pinterest, or Facebook, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.

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