Spiegel Online (Matthias Schulz)
Roughly 3,500 years ago, folding chairs remarkably similar to ones found in Egypt suddenly became must-have items in parts of northern Europe. Scholars are now looking into this potential case of ancient industrial espionage.
When Tutankhamen died, his tomb was filled with all manner of precious objects, including two folding chairs. The more attractive one is made of ebony and has ivory inlays.
Such ingenious chairs were already being used in Egypt more than 4,000 years ago. The brilliantly simple design consists of two movable wooden frames connected to each other with pins and with an animal hide stretched between -- a kind of ur-camping stool.
It isn't surprising, given the advanced nature of their society, that the Egyptians were familiar with such comfortable seating. Astonishing, however, is that the gruff chieftains of northern Europe also sat on such chairs.
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The fact that the design reached so far north led many scholars to posit that northern Europeans developed it independently and in parallel to the Egyptians. But that view has now been challenged. "The design and dimensions of the chairs are too similar," says Bettina Pfaff, an archaeologist from Nebra, near the eastern German city of Halle, who specializes in prehistory.