• Ancient Greece was
a civilization belonging to a period
of Greek history that lasted from
the Archaic period of the 8th to
6th centuries BC to the end
of antiquity 600 AD.
• Greek culture can be said to have
begun with the Bronze Age
civilization of the Minoans in
• The Minoans built vast palaces,
and were skilled in metalwork,
pottery, artwork and the crafting of
• Ancient Greek civilization was at its
zenith during the Classical era,
from 499 BC to 79 BC.
Ancient Greek Furniture
• The Greek history of furniture can be
traced back to the heritage of Egyptian
• Lines became softer, much use was
made of subtle and elegant curves, and
more attention was given to comfort
• Early Greek furniture was largely
influenced from furniture crafted by the
Egyptians and unlike Egypt, Greece had
enough timber for furniture making.
Greek Bed set with a Table
The Configuration of Greek
• So much wealth in the form of precious metals like gold, bronze etc. were
lavished in typical Greek furniture.
• The Greeks took time to configure some complicated designs of furniture
and this made their technology in furniture outstanding.
• For example, the ancient Greek couch was used for resting as well as for
eating. It was constructed with the horizontal reclining area at table height,
rather than low and at an incline.
• The headrest was often curved to support pillows and no foot rest was
• Their stools were built in a variety of configurations and the legs were
mostly built in trumpet form or a rectangular design based on a columnar
• There were the folding stools with X-shaped legs and stationary stools with
straight legs which were made.
• Greek furniture styles were simple, elegant and tasteful.
• carving and inlays were used, furniture was not over-decorated.
• Houses were not cluttered with much furniture, and household items were
made for use and comfort rather than decoration.
• However, the Greek love of beauty and art extended to furniture design, and
the few simple items of furniture in an early Greek household were often works
of art in their own right.
• Oak, maple, beech, citrus and willow were the main woods which did not
require any veneering technique.
• Marble and bronze were used in conjunction with or to replace wood, and laid
ivory, ebony, and precious stones were lavished on the finest wooden pieces,
which sometimes had feet of silver.
• Carved and painted decoration was almost commonplace in this rich market.
• Sears were fitted with perfumed and brightly coloured cushions.
Types Of Furniture
• Elegant interiors with marble columns, stucco ceilings and
mosaic floors, are portrayed in frescoes and marble carvings.
• From the 7th century BCE to 4th century BCE, there were 5
main types of furniture : stools, couches, small tables,
chests, and chairs.
• The early kinds of ancient Greek furniture were predominantly
influenced by Egyptian furniture. Characteristic of this early
furniture was a stiff, rectangular, and unflattering shape
• Two main styles of stools of
ancient Greece have survived
• The first type looks more like a
small table. The typical stool
consisted of a flat top and four
straight legs. This stool was known
as a Bathron.
• There was no back support and
the bottom was hard and
Stool and small table
• The second type of stool was light weight
,The X-stool, also known as the diphros
okladias, was easily movable
• It consisted of three animal legs pointed
inwards and ending with lion's paws.
• These were used both indoors and
• When masters went out to stroll in the
streets, the diphoros okladias was carried
by a servant so that it would be ready
immediately whenever he might wish to
• Some of these were greatly decorated and
used as backless thrones outdoor in similar
• X-framed stools enjoyed both popular and
official status, the straight legged version
(sella curilis) being used by magistrates. “Diphros Okladias” X-frame
• The third type of stool, the
Thronos or throne, was a type
of stool known only to the
wealthy. The Thronos was
ornately decorated and was often
times lined with precious stones.
• •The thronos or throne-chair, was
always reserved for the use of the
most important person present.
Often a god was depicted on a
throne which was carved with
ram’s heads at the ends of the
arms or whose back was shaped
like a snake or a horse’s head.
• •The footstool, which was used
for access to couches and other
high furniture, was known as the
Couches - Klines
• Greek Kline- The Greeks followed the Eastern
tradition of lying down to eat.
• The couches, known as klines, had a headboard
that could be used as a backrest while sitting, and
were elegantly upholstered.
• They were made entirely of wood, but often had
bronze legs cast in animal styles.
• The klines were placed around the walls, and
small tables were placed next to them to hold the
food and drink.
• Kline from klino (cause to lean), from which also
the word clinic and clinical is derived (that on
which one reclines).
• It was made of wood or bronze, and was often
Decoration of a kline
• Various types and sizes of chests were used for
• These usually had gabled lids and some painted with
flowers and figures or elaborately decorated with inlay
and bronze or silver mounts.
• Chests were prized pieces of furniture, and would often
be passed down from one generation to another.
• Chests were originally made similar to those of the
Egyptian style and then took on their own style.
• Chests were the only means for storing clothing
because shelves were generally not used for that
• Jewellery, Valuables and fruits were hidden alongside
the clothing for protection.
• Chests were also often valued enough to be part of a
wife's dowry into use in the Hellenistic period
• Some of the chests made of wood were used as
putting valuables into
Woman putting clothes
into a chest
• Greek furniture was treated architecturally.
• Beds usually had the appearance of Greek temples and usually
were made of stone
• Prior to the invention of a type of chair known as the
Klismos by the Greeks in the 5th Century BCE, chairs
were the same as those of Egypt and Persian.
• These chairs had hard stiff backs and arms. Even the
people depicted in paintings and friezes sitting in these
types of chairs look to be uncomfortable.
• The Klismos was an entirely new type of chair
designed by the Greeks. It's smooth and flowing shape
inspired cultures of the Middle Ages and the early 19th
Century to revive the concept.
• The Klismos, used principally by women, was made
with delicately curved back and legs.
• Rather than being designed to be comfortable, these
chairs of the 6th and 7th Centuries BCE were purely
ceremonial in nature.
• The 5th Century BCE brought along a new era in Greek
chairs and furniture.
The Hard stiff back Chair
• These features allowed the sitter to be in a freer and more natural position;
the backs of these chairs, referred to as Stiles, were designed to the
curvature of the back for comfort and extended to the shoulders.
• The Klismos, like most other furniture, was made of wood and not ornately
• In order to increase the comfort, cushions and animal skins were usually
placed on the Klismos.
• By Hellenistic times, the general shape and structure of the Klismos had
already started to change.
• Chairs once again became heavier and more rigid.
• The general concept of comfort over ceremony has luckily survived through
these changes so that a piece of furniture from 2500 years ago does not
seem at all strange today.
Klismos - The backs of these chairs, referred to
as Stiles, were designed to the curvature of the
back for comfort and extended to the shoulders.
Used mainly by women.
• Couches of ancient Greece were combinations
of beds and sofas. This type of furniture, called
the Kline, was made for sleeping as well as
• During meals Greek diners would lie down
rather than sit to eat. The Greek tend to recline
rather than sit originated in the 6th century.
• Greek couches were similar to those of the
Egyptians except for two differences.
• They stood higher off the ground, so much that
a footstool was sometimes used as a means of
access; and second, there was a headboard
but no footboard.
• The height allowed for easier access to tables
and also allowed room beneath to fit tables.
The headboard was used as a means of back
support while eating.
Sometimes a kline
was used even on a
• A common wood type table was rectangular and
stood on three legs. There were two legs at one
end, the third being in the centre of the other end.
• The Greeks had one set item to be placed upon
their tables: food; The ancient Greeks did not use
tables as places to set up trinkets or valuables, but
merely used them in their most basic purpose.
• Tables were low and mostly movable, credences
and drinking tables being often three-legged and
made of bronze.
• Most ancient tables, were made with 3 rather than
4 legs to create a better sense of balance.
• These tables could be made of bronze or marble,
but typically of wood. This type of table was the
most common up until the 4th Century BCE when
square topped tables were replaced with round
table with lion form legs
• The previously mentioned furnishings were usually the
bare essentials for a family living in ancient Greece.
• There are also other furnishings which were less useful
and more decorative. These, of course, belonged to the
• Wealthy Greeks enjoyed the luxuries of incense burners,
vases, and large vases known as Lebeti as a part of daily
• LEBETI - he vases of the wealthy were decorative and
were often times made of precious or semi-precious
metals. These vases, along with Lebeti, were made by
highly skilled workers and were often times ornately
• Lebeti were "elegant nuptial vases of eighteen inches high
and minutely decorated with stories from history or
• Lebeti, in addition to their decorative purpose, were used
as water jugs and large bowls.
A chair designed for small
children. Baby on Stool with
Marble Table – Supported on a single
Leg – Animal faced leg
Marble Table – typical three
legged with a Round top