If you’ve ever been in the market for flooring material, there’s no doubt you’ve come across promotional materials boasting terms such as “timeless,” “rustic” or “traditional.”  But what were the original floors actually made of? You might envision the stone or dirt floor of a cave. But beyond using whatever already existed underfoot, the actual history of flooring materials used in ancient times is quite interesting and ingenious.  In this article, we’ll try to answer the question of “What is the oldest type of flooring found in ancient history?” The answers might surprise you.

Ancient North America Flooring

Many native tribes of North America led a nomadic lifestyle that followed animal migration patterns, but they would also settle in specific areas during specific seasons.  This led to semi-permanent housing structures that needed a flooring material that could be “cleaned.” Sand was typically used to cover the floorspace of the teepee since it was good at absorbing moisture and waste.  Once it became soiled it would simply be swept out and another layer of fresh sand would be poured.

Ancient India Flooring

Ancient India also utilized dirt floors for the ease of replaceability, but they also took decoration to another level.  They would mix flower petals with coloured rice or flour to create a scented and coloured powder that could be mixed with different colours of sand to create decorative floors.  Design patterns would be handed down through the generations as they were thought to provide good luck. This type of design, known as rangoli, still exists in India today.

Ancient Egypt Flooring

The Ancient Egyptians were the first to use manufactured stone for construction.  Some of the earliest instances of constructed stone floors appear in the pyramids.  The fact that they still stand today are a testament to their durability and stability.

Ancient Greece Flooring

It appears the Ancient Greeks were the first civilization to create decorative mosaics by embedding small stones into beds of mud or mortar.  Ancient Greeks were also the first to use marble as a flooring material.

Ancient Rome Flooring

The Romans took flooring technology to another level by introducing the concept of heated flooring.  Laying stone “floorboards” on top of joists allowed spaces in which heated air could passed underneath to warm the slabs above.