Wooden bed frame with bull's legs

From Thebes, Egypt
19th Dynasty, around 1250 BC

A strong bed for an eternal sleep

Wooden beds are first recorded in the First Dynasty but their basic form changed little over time; most beds had a rectangular frame that was jointed at the corners. As with chairs, the bed legs were often shaped like those of bulls or lions, perhaps chosen for their association with strength. This type of leg also appears on the golden beds of Tutankhamun.

Matting and leather were used to upholster the bed, which would probably have been quite comfortable. Headrests were used instead of pillows, perhaps because they were more comfortable in hot weather. Some of the coarsely woven linen rectangles found among tomb furniture, and also used to wrap mummies, may have been used as blankets. Wool was not used for making textiles as it was regarded as ritually impure.

A bed was often included in the tombs of the well to do, often with the coffin placed on top of it. It is shown in this position in Ankhwahibre's Book of the Dead, bathed in the revitalizing light of the sun. The Egyptians thought of death as a transitory stage, like sleep, between life on earth and the Afterlife.

Find in the collection online

More information


M. Stead, Egyptian life (London, The British Museum Press, 1986)

I. Shaw and P. Nicholson (eds.), British Museum dictionary of A (London, The British Museum Press, 1995)


Length: 111.800 cm
Width: 71.200 cm
Height: 30.500 cm

Museum number

EA 18196



Find in the collection online

Search highlights

There are over 4,000 highlight objects to explore