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The History of Staircases

27 June 2018

The first staircase dates back to BC; the earliest were created under the impression that the ability to ascend them would bring you closer to God. In some societies, climbing the stairs was a religious experience, with some cultural value placed on them to this day. As the years have progressed, the shapes and heights of staircases have varied to fit both trends and the available space that they have to fill. This is important as it makes the period in which they were created more recognisable. With this in mind, there are questions surrounding when the first staircase was created. Ancient structures such as the Mogenjo Daro allow historians to date them back at least 4000 years. With proof that they were regularly used, looking at structures and buildings used by groups of settlers such as the Egyptians and the Mesopotamians show us that their use became more frequent.


Looking at some of the first built options, they had little purpose beyond moving up and out to safety. As a result of this, they needed to be created with little more than a sturdy material that could withstand the weight of people standing on top of them. For this reason, wooden tree stumps were frequently used. Strategically slotting together, they they would act as a defence in an attack, especially if they were in an area with a difficult terrain. These also worked well for areas where an obstacle would have prevented them from travelling. Other alternatives for tree stumps were logs and flattened stones, all of which were used to gain access to a hard-to-reach location. Over time, humans began to decipher the most effective strategies in creating these structures, so would alter their materials and locations to fit.


Over the coming years, stairs would be used to establish the connection between the earth and sky. This would serve as a religious symbol, and several cases would be created in order to hopefully bring humans closer to God. An example of this is of Confucius, who climbed his ladder in order to feel the bond with God. Other examples include Jacob’s Ladder and the Tower of Babel. Today, however, there are a wide variety of different staircases that all fit their specific purpose. Spiral staircases, which may appear to be a decorative feature, were primarily used by the military. Used within castle walls, they created a chance for the defence to find a strategic position. Given their anti-clockwise direction, they allowed the defence to have plenty of space when it came to navigating the castle.


If you’re interested in discovering more about how you can find the perfect custom built wooden stairs for your home, reach out to us today.

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