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Ancient Greek Furniture

Ancient Greece

Greek culture can be said to have begun with the Bronze Age civilization of the Minoans in Crete. The Minoans built vast palaces, and were skilled in metalwork, pottery, artwork and the crafting of jewelry. Civilization on the Greek mainland followed closely behind that of Crete, and Greece soon became the cultural center of the ancient world. Ancient Greek civilization was at its zenith during the Classical era, from 499 BC to 79 BC.

The early Greeks were encouraged to be great thinkers and philosophers. Their scientists and mathematicians laid the groundwork that made today's scientific discoveries possible. They loved to gather together to discuss concepts, ideas, religion and politics, spending much time in the agora (marketplace) in conversation and argument. Ancient Greeks were great lovers of beauty, art, literature and drama, and enjoyed listening to stories, fables and legends.

Ancient Greece Furniture


The Greek history of furniture can be traced back to the heritage of Egyptian furniture. The earliest Greek civilizations borrowed styles and ideas from Egypt, but by the Classical era, designs had subtly changed to a style that was uniquely Greek. Lines became softer, much use was made of subtle and elegant curves, and more attention was given to comfort. Although almost no furniture has survived the centuries, Greek artwork such as pottery decorations and friezes depict daily Greek life in Greek homes, and this has given us an accurate idea of early Greek furniture designs.


Chair Scene
Chair Scene.

Greek furniture styles were simple, elegant and tasteful. Although 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.

Couches - Klines

The andron was furnished with reclining couches; Greek Kline
Greek Kline
the Greeks followed the Eastern tradition of lying down to eat. These couches, known as klines, had a headboard that could be used as a backrest while sitting, and were elegantly upholstered. They could be made entirely of wood, but often had bronze legs cast in animal styles. The klines would be placed around the walls, and small tables would be placed next to them to hold the food and drink.

Stools & Chairs

Stool in Background
Stool with a woven cushion.

Both fixed and folding stools were popular from early times. Later these evolved into chairs for everyday use; previously chairs were only used for ceremonial occasions. Greek classical chairs had curved backs and legs, and were often elegantly upholstered.


Cupboards and shelves were unknown. Various types and sizes of chests were used for storage. These were usually decorated, perhaps painted with a Greek Chest Picture
Greek Chest Picture
frieze of leaves and flowers. Chests were prized pieces of furniture, and would often be passed down from one generation to another.

Greek Revival

Greek classical furniture was the inspiration for the designers of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Archaeological finds fired the imagination of the world, and the simple, elegant lines of ancient Greek's furniture inspired the cabinet makers of the day to move away from earlier, heavier and more ornate styles to imitate ancient Greek and Roman designs. This gave rise to the Neoclassical style of furniture, which is much sought after by antique collectors of today. Early Greek furniture design has influenced the world of interior decorating, just as surely as early Greek thinking has left its mark on the world of science and technology. Our section on Greek decor & furniture will give you some ideas on shopping for greek inspired furniture.

Greek furniture pictures
Greek Furniture Pictures

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