The History of Mesopotamian Furniture

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Mesopotamia civilization developed in the area between the Tigris and Euphrates. The site of the Mesopotamia civilization covered the present Iraq

The Mesopotamia civilization developed in the area between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers from prehistory to the 6th century BC. The site of the Mesopotamia civilization covered the present Iraq and its environs. Mesopotamia civilization was rich in arts and culture which off course includes the production and use of good furniture. Although no outstanding examples of the Mesopotamian furniture survived till the present day, inlays and relief decorations and paintings provide a clue of what furniture in the Tigris – Euphrates valley looked like. The furniture of the Mesopotamia civilization are described as being richly decorated with golden cloths and gilded wood or metals.

Throne of Jamshid on by alisamii

In the history of furniture, the elegant and exquisite works takes precedence over the mediocre pieces because in general it has been the best preserved. In addition, elaborate and defined designs reveal the most about a period while the very simple designs are easy to alter and probably adjusted to suit any period. It’s amazing to know that the simplest work, made for the farmer or laborer of the Mesopotamia era, tends to be more purely functional and timeless; tables and chairs used by working people in 1900 BC are surprisingly like tables and chairs in farmhouses of AD 1900. Some surviving ancient Mesopotamia furniture are elaborate and were originally sheathed in gold, but many very plain pieces were also made in ancient times.

Thrones and stone chairs at the Persepolis site on flickr by alisamii

In Iraq Museum, there are some handful of relief paintings that could lead to the understanding of the Mesopotamian furniture. In the Museum, there are stools, tables and thrones illustrated in relief painting works that dates back to between 3500 – 800 BC. In the Iraq Museum in Baghdad, there is a Sumerian standard box on a pole which is believed to be dated between 3500 and 3200 BC, with shell inlays that illustrate chairs and thrones.

Thrones designed like animals at Persepolis on flickr by alisamii

The carved stone slab which is believed to have been made about 2300 BC shows a throne that looks like an executive upholstered seat with plain and straight legs. There is also another Sumerian painting of a harp that has rich, colorful inlays and a bearded bull’s head carved in the round and covered in gold foil. This painting is believed to be made about 2685 BC and displayed in the University of Pennsylvania Museum in Philadelphia. The 9th Century BC relief in the British Museum, London of the Assyrian king Ashurnasirpal II and his queen displayed great ancient furniture; tables and thrones supported on trumpet-shaped and animal-form legs and embellished with relief decoration.