If you have a computer, possess an internet connection, and are reading this article right now, chances are very high that you have some type of flooring that isn’t just a bunch of dirt. You may have carpet, hardwood, tile, vinyl, linoleum, cork, or any combination of the above. It’s no surprise that we have an abundance of options that are available for use in our home flooring designs. However, this was not always the case. Where do floors even come from? Who had the idea to actually put floors down in their homes? In this article, we go way back to explore the foundations (pun intended) of flooring throughout world history.
In early human civilization, a floor was usually just the dirt contained within the walls and ceilings of a residence. The most advanced humans got for a good long while was to strew hay, straw, and cow dung across the surface. This would get packed down after use, solidifying into a cement-like material. In early European, some peasants would actually spread mint across these dirt floors to make the room smell more pleasant.
The ancient Egyptians are the first people we can pinpoint that used stone floors. It wasn’t long before they were using the stone not only as a practical flooring surface, but also an artistic medium. This is where we got such artwork as tiles and mosaics. Stone flooring continued into the modern day, with the Greeks using oblong stones and pebbles in their work and the Romans learning how to use stone floors to heat their living spaces by lighting fires under the rooms.
During the middle ages, we saw the rise of wooden flooring. To begin with, the planks were rough and asymmetrical. Over time, the planks were sanded and smoothed. Varnishes and stains were created to add to the floors’ longevity. Carpets and rugs began to spring up across the globe, with rugs being developed by the Romans and perfected by the Persians (modern-day Iran). Carpets can be traced back to the Chinese Sung Dynasty throughout the 10th to 13th centuries. These wonders found their way back to Europe, due in no small part to explorers such as Marco Polo’s adventures eastward.
Stay tuned for our next installment in the history of floors!