From Alabaster to Aluminum: A Brief History of Tables

Though it may not seem so, the modern aluminum table is the culmination of thousands of years of technological development. For as long as there have been human beings—mammals notable for their ability to walk upright—there has been a need for a consolidated space for work, play, dining, storage, display, and other uses, away from the dirt and at a convenient height when one is either standing or sitting.

In prehistoric times, natural objects such as fallen trees and conveniently shaped boulders served as the primitive human’s table; further along in time, archaeological evidence of furniture constructed of wood, stone, and other materials dates back to the earliest written history of humanity…and before.

In the Beginning…

The Egyptians constructed tables of alabaster or wood, many of which were of very fine workmanship, and used them to hold objects above ground level. This beautiful sculpted white alabaster offering table dates back to 2200 B.C. and was used for ritualistic purposes, as were the limestone embalming tables used in the mummification process.

The importance of the table only increased as human civilization expanded and as social structures grew more complex. People with specialized occupations would need workbenches and writing lecterns at which to sit and practice their craft. As economies grew, families could afford to purchase their own tables and other furniture manufactured by professional craftsmen.

Ranging across the full span of human history—from Classical times to the Middle Ages and into the Victorian era and beyond—tables were also most commonly the centerpiece of family gatherings, especially at mealtimes. In ancient Rome, the Latin word for table, mensa, came to be synonymous with “meal.” Indeed, the Latin term mensa secunda (literally “second meal”) actually means “dessert.” Even today this tradition continues, and many consider the dining table to be the primary family meeting place, where all regularly gather and eat meals, share news, play games, etc.

The materials from which tables have been constructed over the centuries have been as varied as the current technologies allowed; and their design reflected not just the prevailing aesthetics but also the creative ingenuity of the makers—as these two examples illustrate.

Carved marble table from Pompeii
Classical marble table on trapzophora from ancient Pompeii (Source)

Table by Luigi Valadier made of porphyry, marble, alabaster, and gilt bronze
Neoclassical table by Luigi Valadier, Rome, 1773, made from porphyry, marble, alabaster, and gilt bronze (Source)

Tables Today

While tables can still be built from the same materials as they once were in past times (such as wood, marble, alabaster, bronze, steel, etc.), their ranks have been joined by tables made of the modern era’s far more technologically advanced substances—most notably by the aluminum table.

Unlike steel, aluminum tables from Framing Tech are not just strong and durable, but lightweight. These tables are not only utilitarian but stylish, and they serve a wide range of purposes. Like a modern-day mensa, they are suitable for a Thanksgiving feast or house party, while also being fit for the more practical needs of our modern world, such as when employed in a laboratory setting, wherein its corrosion-resistance would be a necessary feature.

Framing Tech’s aluminum tables are not a one-size-fits-all solution, but rather come in many configurations and sizes. You are likely to find precisely what you are looking for here; but should you have a specialty project in mind, please do not hesitate to contact us, and we can personally assist you to find the right table for your purposes.

Stylish aluminum table designed by Framing Tech