How easy it is to take for granted the small things we enjoy every day. Most people couldn’t comprehend life without a TV remote control let alone no TV at all. But what if your pillow was a rock? No, not metaphorically hard as a rock but an actual rock? Well, if you lived in Mesopotamia in 7,000 BCE, you’d probably be happily sleeping on a rock every night.
The earliest historically-recorded pillow looks like a stone block with a half-moon cut out on the top for you to rest your neck. Why a stone block? These “pillows” kept the head off the ground and prevented bugs form entering your ears or taking residence in your hair. Although there is evidence that some used soft pillows in these days, it appears that making sure you had bug-free ears and hair was more important than having a soft place to lay your head.
In ancient Asia, they also preferred the hard pillow block with the half-moon cut out for the neck as well. But these cultures preferred these types of pillows for completely different reasons; the ancient Asian cultures believed that a soft pillow stole energy from your body while you slept. One interesting facet of these pillows was their elaborate engraving.
In Europe during the Middle Ages, when being uncomfortable stretched well beyond bed time, many people didn’t use a pillow as they were seen to be status symbols. Even King Henry VIII banned the use of pillows for anyone besides pregnant women. Pillows weren’t widely used in Europe until the Industrial Revolution took hold. During this time, pillows became more affordable as they were mass produced by textile companies in the United States. In fact, pillow use became so widespread, that many of these Industrial-era pillows can still be purchased in antique shops.