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Seats in history

June 30, 2020 6:45 am

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Chairs used to be a furniture item reserved for the elite and officials, certainly not for normal people when you look back in history. In fact, there are a few seats still used as a symbol of authority, for example, the speaker’s chair in the House of Commons, the Queen’s throne and executive chairs for those in charge who ‘chair’ meetings. Not until the 16th century did the humble chair become more widely available. However, most homes in history were still settling on a stool, bench or crates for seating.

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Chairs of the Ancient Egyptians were big affairs and made of ebony, ivory or gilded carved wood. They believed that the chair should resemble beings and animals in order not to interfere with nature. Popular themes for Egyptian seats included lions or bulls.

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Roman chairs were often made of marble, which does not sound very comfortable but fortunately, they are beautifully decorated with sphinxes. One of the oldest seats to survive is the chair of Saint Peter in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. It has rotted a bit as it’s made from wood, but it seems to date from the 6th century. It has an impressive ivory carving of Hercules.

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