CAIRO – 23 May 2022: Humans have known sleep on soft pillows 2000 years ago, but the ancient Egyptians used to rest their heads on pillows made of stone.
The ancient Egyptian pillow stand, commonly called the headrest, was designed to keep the head elevated while sleeping. It usually consists of a flat base and then a concave section on its upper side to rest the head. Headrests made of marble, ivory, ceramics, stone, wood, and even glass were found in Egyptian tombs from 3000 BC until 30 BC.
Headrests help prevent insects from crawling into the mouth, nose, ears or across the face. The idea of a stone pillow starts to look more attractive in hot climates, as the headrest allows air currents to flow under the head and cool the sleeper, according to ancient-origins.
Egyptian stone pillows served more than just practical application. In ancient Egypt, the head was believed to be the seat of spiritual life, and therefore it was necessary to protect it. Stone headrests were often engraved with protective images, such as that of the deity Bes, a deity who protected sleeping people with its fearsome appearance that drove out evil. Also, headrests were placed under the heads of the deceased to ward off evil spirits.