Friday, December 14, 2012

Bernard Lewis and furniture in the Middle East II

From Nikolai:
"Wait a second...I thought chairs were actually invented in the Middle East. I'm certain that in Ancient Egypt they had chairs. Some "Middle East expert" he is. I can't believe they choose this guy to co-edit the original Cambridge History of Islam. (Actually, I can.)

"Neither thrones nor chairs originated in classical Greece; they are far older. Chair sitting was already a widespread practice in the ancient Egypt of 2850 B.C. The oldest physical chairs we have come from the tomb of the young pharaoh Tutankhamen, who died in about 1352 B.C. Ancient Egyptian furniture lasted because of the dry climate and because the wood was encased in gold. But paintings, carvings, and hieroglyphs on temples and papyrus all show that chairs were used by many people, not only royalty with rank determining who could sit in whose presence....Chair sitting continued into Islamic, medieval Egypt; by A.D. 650, Egyptians were routinely using chairs and stools in their homes....The Assyrian language has two different words for generic seats (stools and benches) and chairs (seat with a back). So chairs were significant in Mesopotamia as well as in Egypt." (31-32, The Chair by Galen Cranz)

One could 'technically' claim that chairs are possibly a 'Western' invention, as the earliest images of people on chairs are clay figurines from Bulgaria, but the fact remains that chairs as we know them have been in the Middle East for around 5000 years. Heck, we have archaeological evidence of their existence! (As anyone who's paid attention at a Egyptian Valley of the Kings museum exhibition can tell you)

Proof of Middle East chairs for Bernard Lewis: 

PS - According to the History of Interior Design and Furniture: From Ancient Egypt to Nineteenth Century Europe, the ancient Egyptians cut down Lebanese trees to use for their chairs and other furniture, due to limited local supply. (2) Also, many Greek forms of chairs were based off of Egyptian forms. (35)"