Furniture is the mass noun for the movable objects intended to support various human activities such as seating and sleeping. Furniture is also used to hold objects at a convenient height for work (as horizontal surfaces above the ground), or to store things.
Furniture can be a product of design and is considered a form of decorative art. In addition to furniture's functional role, it can serve a symbolic or religious purpose. It can be made from many materials, including metal, plastic, and wood. Furniture can be made using a variety of woodworking joints which often reflect the local culture.
Furniture has been a part of the human experience since the development of non-nomadic cultures. Evidence of furniture survives from the Neolithic Period and later in antiquity in the form of paintings, such as the wall Murals discovered at Pompeii; sculpture, and examples have been excavated in Egypt and found in tombs in Ghiordes, in modern day Turkey.
A range of unique stone furniture has been excavated in Skara Brae, a Neolithic village located in Orkney. The site dates from 3100–2500 BC and due to a shortage of wood in Orkney, the people of Skara Brae were forced to build with stone, a readily available material that could be worked easily and turned into items for use within the household. Each house shows a high degree of sophistication and was equipped with an extensive assortment of stone furniture, ranging from cupboards, dressers and beds to shelves, stone seats, and limpet tanks. The stone dresser was regarded as the most important as it symbolically faces the entrance in each house and is therefore the first item seen when entering, perhaps displaying symbolic objects, including decorative artwork such as several Neolithic Carved Stone Balls also found at the site.
Ancient furniture has been excavated from the 8th-century BC Phrygian tumulus, the Midas Mound, in Gordion, Turkey. Pieces found here include tables and inlaid serving stands. There are also surviving works from the 9th-8th-century BC Assyrian palace of Nimrud. The earliest surviving carpet, the Pazyryk Carpet was discovered in a frozen tomb in Siberia and has been dated between the 6th and 3rd century BC. Recovered Ancient Egyptian furniture includes 3rd millennium BC beds discovered at Tarkhan as place for the deceased, a c. 2550 BC gilded bed and two chairs from the tomb of Queen Hetepheres, and many examples (boxes, beds, chairs) from c. 1550 to 1200 BC from Thebes. Ancient Greek furniture design beginning in the 2nd millennium BC, including beds and the klismos chair, is preserved not only by extant works, but by images on Greek vases. The 1738 and 1748 excavations of Herculaneum and Pompeii revealed Roman furniture, preserved in the ashes of the 79 A.D. eruption of Vesuvius, to the eighteenth century.