Seating Customs in the Ancient Middle East: Mats and the Absence of Chairs

From 1200 B.C. to 100 A.D., people in the Middle East sat on mats rather than chairs. Furniture styles and seating arrangements varied across cultures and social classes, but mats were commonly used for seating in both domestic and public settings.

In ancient Middle Eastern societies, such as those of Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Persia, mats made of reeds, palm leaves, or woven textiles were commonly used for sitting, reclining, or dining. These mats were often placed on the floor or on raised platforms. In domestic settings, people would gather around low tables or cushions for meals, discussions, or socializing.

Chairs, as we understand them today, were not widely used in the Middle East during this period. Chairs were considered a symbol of status and authority, primarily reserved for rulers, high-ranking officials, or dignitaries. They were often ornate and elevated, reflecting the social hierarchy of the time. The general population, however, relied primarily on mats for seating, which provided a more flexible and versatile option for daily life.

A Tapestry of Civilization: Unveiling the Rich History of the Middle East

The Middle East, a region of ancient grandeur and dynamic cultural diversity, has served as a cradle of civilization for thousands of years. From the birth of agriculture and the rise of the world’s first cities to the formation of great empires and the spread of influential religions, the history of the Middle East is a compelling narrative that has shaped the course of human history. In this article, we will travel back in time to peel back the layers of this remarkable region and explore the profound impact it has had on the world.

Cradle of Civilization: Mesopotamia and the Cradle of Agriculture

The story of the Middle East begins in the fertile lands of Mesopotamia, often referred to as the “cradle of civilization. It was here, between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, that agriculture first took root, leading to the establishment of permanent settlements and the birth of complex societies. Mesopotamia was home to ancient city-states such as Sumer, Babylon, and Assyria, which made significant contributions to human progress, including the invention of writing, the development of advanced legal systems, and the construction of monumental structures such as the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

Empires and Conquests: Persia, Greece, and the Rise of Islam

The Middle East witnessed the rise and fall of powerful empires that left an indelible mark on history. The Persian Empire, led by Cyrus the Great, created a vast and diverse empire known for its administrative efficiency and cultural tolerance. The conquests of Alexander the Great brought the influence of Greek civilization to the region, leaving a lasting legacy in art, language, and philosophy. But it was the arrival of Islam in the 7th century that reshaped the Middle East and beyond. The Arab conquests spread Islamic civilization over a vast area from Spain to India, fostering intellectual, scientific, and artistic advances.

The Golden Age: Islamic Civilization and Cultural Prosperity

From the 8th to the 13th centuries, the Middle East experienced a period of unparalleled cultural and intellectual flowering. Islamic scholars made groundbreaking contributions in fields as diverse as mathematics, astronomy, medicine, and philosophy. Cities such as Baghdad, Cairo, and Cordoba became renowned centers of learning and trade, attracting scholars from around the world. The preservation and translation of ancient Greek and Roman texts by Muslim scholars played a crucial role in the transmission of classical knowledge to Europe during the Renaissance.

The Age of Empires: Ottoman Rule and European Influence

The Ottoman Empire, which originated in Anatolia, rose to prominence in the Middle East in the 14th century. Spanning three continents, it became one of the most extensive and enduring empires in history, encompassing diverse cultures and religions. However, the 19th and early 20th centuries witnessed the decline of the Ottoman Empire and the rise of European influence in the region. Imperial powers, including Britain and France, sought to carve out spheres of influence, leading to the redrawing of borders and the imposition of colonial rule.

Modern Challenges and Cultural Resilience

The Middle East has faced significant challenges in the 20th and 21st centuries, including political upheavals, conflicts, and struggles for independence. The creation of Israel, regional conflicts, and the discovery of vast oil reserves have shaped the geopolitics of the region. Yet the Middle East continues to demonstrate remarkable cultural resilience, with its rich heritage, art, music, and literature serving as a testament to the enduring spirit of its people.

Unveiling the Recent Turmoil: Major Conflicts and Political Upheavals in the Middle East

In recent history, the Middle East has been involved in significant conflicts and political upheavals that have had far-reaching consequences both within the region and globally. Here are some of the major conflicts and political events that have shaped the Middle East in recent times.

Arab-Israeli Conflict

The ongoing conflict between Israel and its Arab neighbors, primarily the Palestinians, has been a defining issue in the region. It stems from the creation of Israel in 1948 and the displacement of Palestinians, leading to several wars and ongoing tensions over borders, settlements, and the status of Jerusalem.

Iran-Iraq War

Fought between 1980 and 1988, the war between Iran and Iraq had a profound impact on the region. It resulted in millions of casualties and economic devastation as both countries sought to assert dominance and gain control over disputed territories.

Gulf War and Iraq War

The 1990-1991 Gulf War was sparked by Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. A coalition led by the United States intervened to liberate Kuwait and protect regional stability. The subsequent 2003 Iraq War, which toppled Saddam Hussein’s regime, led to a prolonged period of instability and sectarian violence in Iraq.

Arab Spring

Beginning in 2010, a wave of popular uprisings and protests swept several countries in the Middle East, including Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria, and Yemen. The Arab Spring uprisings sought political reform, social justice, and an end to autocratic rule. While some countries experienced successful transitions, others faced prolonged conflict and political turmoil.

Syrian Civil War

The Syrian Civil War, which began in 2011, has been one of the most devastating conflicts in recent history. It began as a popular uprising against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, but escalated into a complex and multifaceted conflict involving regional and international actors. The war has caused immense human suffering and displacement, and led to the rise of extremist groups such as ISIS.

Yemen Civil War

Since 2014, Yemen has been embroiled in a civil war between Houthi rebels, who control the capital Sana’a, and forces loyal to the internationally recognized government. The conflict has led to a humanitarian crisis with widespread famine, disease, and displacement.

Rise of ISIS

The emergence of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in 2014 posed a significant threat to regional stability and global security. ISIS exploited political instability and sectarian tensions to establish a self-declared caliphate, committing widespread atrocities and carrying out terrorist attacks.

These conflicts and political upheavals have had a profound impact on the Middle East, leading to major humanitarian crises, geopolitical realignments, and the displacement of millions of people. They continue to shape the dynamics of the region and pose ongoing challenges to peace, stability and development.


The Middle East, with its rich and complex history, is a region that has played a pivotal role in shaping the course of human civilization. From its ancient civilizations and empires to its contributions to science, art, and philosophy, the Middle East has left an indelible mark on the world.

But the Middle East has also faced many challenges, including conflict, political upheaval, and social transformation. The Arab-Israeli conflict, the Iran-Iraq war, and the Syrian civil war are just a few examples that have resulted in immense human suffering and geopolitical complexities. These events have had far-reaching consequences not only within the region, but also globally.

Despite these challenges, the Middle East is a region of remarkable resilience and cultural diversity. It is home to vibrant traditions, art forms, and a deeply rooted sense of identity. The Middle East continues to be a center of innovation, with advances in technology, medicine, and education.

Looking ahead, the Middle East faces the challenge of resolving ongoing conflicts, promoting stability, and fostering inclusive economic development. Regional cooperation, dialogue, and diplomacy are critical to achieving lasting peace and increasing prosperity for the people of the Middle East.

As the world becomes more interconnected, it is essential to understand and appreciate the complexity of the Middle East. By recognizing the region’s rich history, diverse cultures, and collective aspirations, we can forge stronger bonds of understanding, cooperation, and respect that will foster a more peaceful and prosperous future for the Middle East and the world.


When did people start sitting chairs?

The earliest records of chairs appear in Egyptian tomb paintings and ancient Greek art. The oldest representation Rybczynski could find is a Greek sculpture from 3,000 B.C., which is now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. (You can see it right here.) It shows a harpist sitting on a simple, four-legged chair.

Who created the first chair?

Chairs are known from Ancient Egypt and have been widespread in the Western world from the Greeks and Romans onwards. They were in common use in China from the twelfth century, and were used by the Aztecs.

What is the oldest chair in the world?

The oldest chair is estimated to be almost 5,000 years old. Originating in Egypt, it was the earliest known four legged ancestor to our modern chair.

Did the ancient Greeks have couches?

The main types of furniture that were used in ancient Greece were: stools, couches, small tables, chests, and chairs.

When was the first chair made?

Chairs were in existence since at least the Early Dynastic Period of Egypt (c. 3100 BC). They were covered with cloth or leather, were made of carved wood, and were much lower than today’s chairs – chair seats were sometimes only 10 inches high.

Who was the first person to sit down in a chair?

On the 5th of March, 1928, at precisely 11.30 am, Eric’s assistant, Lazlo Windchime-Monkeybush, became the first person in history to sit down.

Are humans meant to sit?

Humans are not sedentary creatures.

We lived on our feet, and not on our bottoms. Now that we have desk jobs, televisions, transport, and computers, most humans spend more time sitting on our bottoms the we spend sleeping. Our bodies were not meant to sit that much.

Which came first chair or table?

Chairs were first invented way back in caveman times, when someone took a rock and sat on it. Thats by definition what a chair is. But if you want to be nitpicky, its either the Egyptians or the Greeks, since the first chairs were found in the ruins of their city. Which came first, Christianity or Greek Mythology?

Who was the first person to walk?

Homo erectus was the first to have the long legs and shorter arms that would have made it possible to walk, run and move about Earth’s landscapes as we do today. Homo erectus also had a much larger brain than did earlier bipedal hominins and made and used stone tools called Acheulean implements.

How did Ancient Greeks sit?

The basic sitting apparatus was a simple stool. Stools were very important in wealthy Egyptian homes, and seem to have been popular in Greece all the way from the 6th to 1st century BCE. Most stools had straight, solid legs, but the Greeks also had folding stools with x-shaped, crossed legs.

Did Romans sit in chairs?

The simplest chairs, known as sella, were essentially stools. They were light, cheap, easily portable, and found all over Roman homes. Wealthier Romans had folding stools as well, a status symbol of the time. Although they were less common, some Romans did have chairs with backs and armrests.

Did ancient Japan have chairs?

Traditional Japanese Homes

” This is because in traditional Japanese houses, from ancient times to the present, there was very little furniture to sit or sleep on. Without chairs or bedding, the Japanese generally used the floor to sit and sleep on.

Do Japanese still sit on floor?

Sitting upright on the floor is common in many situations in Japan. For example, meals are traditionally held on a tatami floor around a low table. Sitting on the floor is also customary during the tea ceremony and other traditional events.

Did Japanese use chairs?

When you’re in Japan, even sitting down can be an exotic experience. Chairs are one of the many foreign technologies that Japan has wholeheartedly adopted, but most Japanese people would just as soon sit on the floor.

Why do Japanese sit on the floor while eating?

It helps digestion.

This cross-legged position is called “easy” pose, or sukhasana, and it’s believed to increase blood flow to the stomach, helping you to digest food easily and to get the most vitamins and nutrients.

Is eating on the floor healthy?

Increases blood circulation

Cross-legged position enhances the blood circulation in our body as it calms the nerves and releases away from the tension in it. It keeps the heart healthy as when we are sitting down; there is less pressure on our body and the heart.

What cultures eat sitting on the floor?

In countries like India, Japan, and China, eating while seated on the floor serves as a habit, ritual, and wellness practice all in one. Resting in Sukhasana, or “easy” pose, forces you to sit taller with every bite, and improves mobility in the hips and ankles.

Is it healthier to sit on the floor?

Sitting on the floor also improves posture and increases overall strength, flexibility, and mobility. Studies correlate the ability to ‘sit and rise from the floor without support’ with a longer life expectancy. Sitting on the floor also develops musculoskeletal fitness.

How do Japanese sit on the floor?

Quote from video: Approach this a baton in a 45 degree angle kneel down but down sit down and rearrange your knees to the front edge of the sabaton.

Why do Japanese do everything on the floor?

Sitting on the floor has long been part of Japan’s way of life. In traditional homes, people eat and sleep on straw floor mats known as tatami. Numerous Japanese cultural activities, from Zen meditation to the tea ceremony, are done completely or partly while sitting on the floor.

Can old people sit on the floor?

Here’s the silver lining: Sitting on the floor is also a simple, effective way to maintain strength, function and vitality as you age. Fortunately, you don’t need to shun the chair for every activity. But spending some time on the floor each day can benefit your health. Here, Dr.

Why is it harder to get off the floor as you age?

As we age the big muscles in our thighs tend to lose strength (particularly if we spend a lot of time sitting down), which puts us off doing things that require us to get down on the floor in case we can’t get back up again.

What happens if you sit on the floor for too long?

Sitting for a long time in the same position normally affects the structure of your low back, called the lumbar region of the spine and the movement characteristics of your pelvis. And it’s believed this might lead to health problems in the long run, such as arthritis.

Why do old people stand with bent knees?

The posture may be caused by collapsing of some of the spinal vertebrae, which often occurs painlessly as we age. That will require you to strengthen the muscles around the spine to keep the back in an upright position. A physical therapist can help you learn the right exercises. 3.

Why do guys walk with their feet out?

Out-toeing, or being duck-footed, is a condition marked by feet that point outward instead of straight ahead. It’s most common in toddlers and young children, who typically outgrow it by age 8. Adults can also become duck-footed as the result of a sedentary lifestyle, poor posture, injury, or other causes.

What happens to your body at age 70?

Your Bones, Joints, and Muscles

Your muscles get weaker, and the tendons — which connect muscles to your skeleton — get stiffer. This will decrease your strength and flexibility. In your 70s, you might lose an inch or two off your height as disks in your back flatten.

How do I stop stooping in old age?

For now, it seems an active lifestyle with regular activity and standing up straight are your best tools to prevent postural changes. Exercises to stretch the front (flexor muscles) of the body and strengthening exercises for the back (extensor muscles) are especially important. Sai-wing Lee, PhD, et al.

What causes old age hump?

Age-related kyphosis is often due to weakness in the spinal bones that causes them to compress or crack. Other types of kyphosis can appear in infants or teens due to malformation of the spine or wedging of the spinal bones over time.

At what age does your body start to decline?

New study says decline begins in our 50s

Researchers with Duke University’s School of Medicine suggest that physical decline begins in the decade of the 50s and worsens as we age, especially for those who don’t exercise.

What causes a hump back?

This condition, which doctors call kyphosis, results from chronic forward-leaning, a posture that is too common in our world of computer screens and other devices. Over time, a habit of poor posture can cause you to develop an abnormal curve of the upper vertebrae and a mass of tissue at the lower part of the neck.

How do I get rid of the hump on my neck when I sleep?

Quote from video: The only way to help reduce this while you sleep is if we can get the weight of your upper body and head and put it to use by helping pull your posture back into the ideal alignment.

What does a hump on your neck mean?

A hump behind the shoulder, also called a buffalo hump, can develop when fat gathers together behind your neck. This condition is not necessarily serious. Tumors, cysts, and other abnormal growths can also form on your shoulders, creating a hump. Other times a hump can be the result of a curvature in the spine.

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