Storage in Ancient Times

Ancient granaries used for storage

For as long as people have had possessions they have had a need for additional storage space and special storage methods. Humans have been storing clothing and perishable items since prehistoric times. Learn how ancient storage was used and how it compares to its modern counterpart.

Ancient vases used for storage

Storage Containers
Because pre-modern societies lacked refrigeration, food preservation was particularly challenging. In Greece, Rome and Egypt, the ancients typically salted meat to remove moisture. Vegetables were either pickled in brine or dried in the sun. Clay jars became the ancient world’s most common storage containers. They were used not only food, but wine as well. Potters crafted and sold jars decorated with simple geometric designs that were painted or incised. Treasure hunters have recovered ancient ships containing jars that feature elaborate scenes depicting mythological figures. The latter types were usually made for royals or the extremely wealthy. Examples of these pieces can now be seen in museums and private collections all over the world.

Ancient granaries used for storage

Since ancient times grain has been stored in bulk. As early as 8500 BC, buildings known as granaries were used to house the cereal crops harvested by settlements in the Jordan Valley. These structures were used to protect grains, such as wheat and barley, from rodents and insects. The granaries were also a way to preserve food for times of scarcity. As they developed, ancient grain silos became larger and more sophisticated. Some could store up to 80 tons.

Ancient clothing chest

Clothes Chests
Many ancient peoples stored their clothes in wooden chests. These boxes were a good way to protect the light fabrics used in the tunics and togas of  Mediterranean cultures. Just as with storage jars, chests were decorated according to the status and means of their owners. While farmers might paint their chests, those belonging to the wealthiest citizens were often carved with delicate patterns. Gold and jewels might even be inlaid depending on the buyer’s income. Some of the oldest chests still in existence were made for Egyptian pharaohs such as Tutankhamen.

Modern Self Storage
Today’s self storage units are not unlike the store rooms of ancient cultures. While modern units are not often used to store food or drink (that’s generally a self storage don’t), they are still used to preserve and safe guard essential possessions. As it was in ancient times, storage remains a necessity for kings and commoners alike. As long as there are items that need extra room or special care, storage will continue to be in demand.