The History Of The Bed Predates Humanity Itself

Modern bedding is a mix of soft, comfortable materials paired with advanced design and technology to create not only a beautiful, striking place to sleep but also the best night’s sleep possible.

It stands to reason that the idea of a dedicated place to sleep is not exactly a new invention, however it may surprise you to know just how early the bed was created.

It not only predates civilisation as we know it, but the bed also predates humanity as we know it.

Here is the story of the evolution of the bed from a pile of grass to a decadent velvet bed we enjoy today.

Ancient Sleep

The earliest beds of any kind are believed to have been made between 23 million years ago and 5 million years ago by our simian ancestors.

As ape brains increased in size, so too did the amount and quality of sleep they need, so apes would create raised sleeping platforms made of wood.

Even before the emergence of humanity beds were raised off of the ground, primarily to avoid dirt, insects and cold drafts that could emerge on the ground.

The next main evolution in bedding would appear after Homo Erectus, the first species to be recognisably human, had appeared. Roughly 200,000 years ago humans would create bedding made of grass to create comfortable, distinct sleeping areas.

These layers would be placed near the back of a cave and whilst they were not always raised, they did have a way to prevent insects from crawling around on sleeping people.

By spreading a layer of burnt ash before laying the grass bedding down, it created a pest-repellent that stopped them moving as quickly and could even kill them entirely, allowing for a pleasant night’s sleep.

Rapid Evolution

By contrast, once the principle of the bed had proven to help people survive, beds became a core part of early civilisations and evolved in rather interesting ways.

The earliest bed ever found in the United Kingdom was discovered in the preserved ancient Scottish village of Skara Brae. As stone was the only viable building material available in the area of Orkney, Neolithic builders would create an extensive set of stone furniture.

This included two stone boxes that were used as beds, which were presumably filled with a softer material to keep them comfortable.

One of the earliest references to beds in literature was in Homer’s Odyssey, an epic poem that described the creation of an ornate and luxurious bed out of an olive tree trunk.

Beds were a huge part of ancient Egyptian culture, with ornate golden beds and headrests found in the homes of the elites in Egyptian society, but few ancient cultures valued beds as much as Ancient Rome.

The Many Roman Beds

Roman beds are the first beds constructed in a semi-recognisable way, with mattresses stuffed with soft materials such as wool and later feathers.

The earliest pillows were tiny cushions that were used to provide comfort to the head and back, with bedsteads so high that staircases were needed to reach them.

As well as this, the Roman bed was not just a place to sleep, with both them and the ancient Greeks eating in table beds, studying in specially designed beds and having a special bed for the dead to lie on before reaching their final resting place.

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