Did Ancient Greece Have Wheelchairs?

Did Ancient Greece Have Wheelchairs?

When we think of ancient civilizations, we often imagine their architectural marvels, philosophical ideas, and Olympic games. But what about the accessibility of these societies? Specifically, did ancient Greece have wheelchairs?

Ancient Greek Society

Ancient Greece was a civilization that flourished from the 8th to the 6th century BCE. It was known for its contributions to art, literature, mathematics, and philosophy. However, accessibility for individuals with disabilities is not typically a topic associated with this period.

Mobility Challenges in Ancient Greece

In ancient times, life could be physically demanding. People faced various mobility challenges due to injuries from wars or accidents or conditions such as polio or paralysis.

It is important to note that while wheelchairs as we know them today did not exist in ancient Greece, there were alternative forms of transportation available for those with mobility difficulties.

Ancient Greek Technologies for Mobility Assistance

Ancient Greeks used various methods to aid individuals with mobility challenges. One such device was the perirrhanterion, a primitive wheelchair-like contraption. The perirrhanterion had wheels and handles that allowed attendants to push or pull the user.

Another method involved using ramps. These ramps provided easier access to buildings and venues for those who had difficulty walking or climbing stairs.

Social Support and Adaptations

  • In addition to physical assistance devices, there was also a strong emphasis on social support within ancient Greek society.
  • Citizens with disabilities were often cared for by family members or were supported by the community.
  • Public spaces and buildings were designed with ramps, wider doorways, and other adaptations to accommodate individuals with mobility challenges.

Ancient Greek Attitudes Towards Disability

Ancient Greeks had a complex understanding of disability. While some individuals with disabilities were celebrated for their unique abilities, others faced discrimination.

Despite the challenges faced by individuals with disabilities, ancient Greek society recognized the importance of inclusion and providing support to those who needed it.


In conclusion, while wheelchairs as we know them today did not exist in ancient Greece, alternative methods such as the perirrhanterion and ramps were used to aid individuals with mobility difficulties. Ancient Greek society also emphasized social support and made adaptations to public spaces to accommodate those with disabilities. This demonstrates an understanding of inclusivity and the value of supporting all members of society.

As we reflect on ancient Greece’s contributions to art, philosophy, and democracy, let us also acknowledge their efforts towards accessibility and support for individuals facing mobility challenges.