It’s hard to find a good pillow. And while some of us like our pillow firm, it would take a major adjustment to sleep like ancient Mesopotamians and Egyptians (well, in more ways than one, I suppose).
Here’s one of the most famous pillows in history, brought to you from Egypt King Tut’s tomb:
It’s beautiful, but it lacks the kind of functionality we typically look for today.
Until the Industrial Revolution, pillows weren’t even a household object. Yes, some ancient Greeks and Romans did stuff straw in cloth to lay their heads on, but a pillow is also a symbol of having excess lying around to use for more practical purposes. However, we can credit the Greeks with bringing us closer to the era of the soft pillow.
However, in ancient Mesopotamia, China, and Egypt, wealthy people would elevate their heads on “pillow” made of stone (or ivory – or another luxury material). They were designed to keep insects out of their ears, noses, and mouths – and probably to maintain a good hairstyle every now and then.
We’ve also found some pillows that are beautifully engraved with messages about keeping away bad spirits as well, but it’s unclear how those would be fooled by an elevated head. Still, it gives us a good idea of what ancient people were concerned about when they laid down their heads at night. — WTF fun facts
Source: “HEADRESTS IN GLENCAIRN’S EGYPTIAN COLLECTION: PRACTICALITY AND PROTECTION” — Glencairn Museum