Did They Have Pillows in Ancient Greece?

In ancient Greece, the concept of comfort and relaxation was highly valued. However, when it comes to the question of whether they had pillows, the answer is a bit unconventional.

The Ancient Greek Sleep Culture

Ancient Greeks had a different perspective on sleep compared to modern times. They believed that sleeping on soft surfaces could lead to laziness and weaken the body. Instead, they preferred sleeping on hard surfaces like mats or thin mattresses placed directly on the ground.

Comfort Without Pillows

Although pillows as we know them today were not commonly used in ancient Greece, they did have alternatives for comfort during sleep.

  • Bolsters: Instead of pillows, ancient Greeks often used bolsters made of wood or stone. These were long cylindrical objects placed under their necks or lower backs for support while sleeping.
  • Cushions: Cushions were also used for added comfort.

    They were typically smaller than modern-day pillows and made from materials such as fabric stuffed with straw or feathers.

  • Headrests: Another alternative to pillows was the use of headrests. These were often made of wood or stone and provided support specifically for the head while sleeping.

The Symbolism of Pillows

Pillows had a different significance in ancient Greek culture than they do today. They were primarily associated with death rituals and funerals rather than everyday sleep comfort.

Pillows in Funerals

Ancient Greeks used pillows as part of burial customs. The deceased’s head was often placed on a pillow during funeral rites as a symbol of rest and peace in the afterlife.

Pillows as Offerings

In some cases, pillows were also offered as votive offerings to gods and goddesses in ancient Greece. These pillows were usually intricately decorated and placed in temples or shrines as a sign of devotion.

The Evolution of Pillows

It is essential to note that the concept of pillows evolved over time. While ancient Greeks may not have used pillows in the same way we do today, their successors in the Hellenistic period and later civilizations adopted softer and more comfortable versions of pillows.

Roman Influence

With the influence of Roman culture, cushions and softer forms of headrests became more prevalent in ancient Greece. This shift reflected a growing appreciation for comfort during sleep.

In Conclusion

Ancient Greeks did not use pillows as we do today, but they found alternative ways to ensure comfort during sleep. Bolsters, cushions, and headrests played a crucial role in providing support.

The symbolism of pillows in funerals and religious rituals sheds light on their cultural significance. As time passed, pillows evolved into more comfortable forms with the influence of Roman culture.

While we may take our modern-day pillows for granted, it is fascinating to explore how different cultures approached sleep comfort throughout history.