Welcome to a new series: Time Travel. Over the weeks, we will take a look back at how the concept of the holiday—from camping to ritzy resorts—evolved. This week, we’re recounting the history of tents, one of the most beloved forms of portable lodging.
The oldest known tent, found in Moldova and structured around mammoth bones, dates to around 40,000 B.C. Early societies around the world, particularly nomadic nations, set up tents that adapted to their lifestyles and environments.
Tents took a recreational turn in the latter half of the 20th century, along with the rising popularity of camping and scouting organizations. Today, like the remainder of camping tools, tents are only getting more incredible, with intense renditions such as floating kayak tents and tents that pop open in two seconds.
Flip through the gallery above and learn about the history of tents.
Sarra Sedghi is a freelancer based in Athens, Ga.
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The ancient Romans heavily utilized tents for military purposes. Roman tents underwent a dramatic advance after leather canopies (as pictured in the replica) were replaced by linen or hemp or linen.
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Eureka changed the game in 1959 by inventing the first self-standing tent Draw-Tite tent (pictured). More than a decade later, Eureka unveiled the Timberline tent, which was lightweight and easier to store than its predecessors.
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Although Scandinavian oral tradition tells that the Sami people have used lavvu tents for more than a thousand years, the first written description of one surfaced in 1674 in John Scheffer's "The History of Lapland." These temporary dwellings were similar in structure to the tipi utilized by Plains Indians.
Photo: TripAdvisor // Deaf Debo
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Greek historian Herodotus (484-425 B.C.) recorded the first written description of a yurt. According to Herodotus, the tents were used as dwellings by the Scythians, a nomadic group who occupied the Caucasus region.
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In the 1930s, Eberhard Koebel developed the Kohte as a variation of the lavvu. The Kohte was banned throughout Germany from 1935 until after World War II and then became the most popular type of tent in German Scouting.
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In 1990, Napier Enterprises took camping to another level with its invention of the truck tent. The added protection and easier access to a sleeping space encouraged a car camping movement.
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In 1856, American military officer Henry Hopkins Sibley patented the Sibley tent, which bore many similarities to the tipis used by Plains Indians. Although Sibley never received a profit, around 44,000 tents were used by the Union Army during the Civil War.
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Today, tents defy forces of nature to a slight extent and are more mobile than ever with the incorporation of perks such as wheels and even floatation devices.
Photo: Tentsile Tree Tents
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Meanwhile, Plains tribes such as the Sioux utilized animal skins and wooden poles to construct their trademark tipis. Unlike wigwams built by tribes in the Northeastern states, tipis were portable and used as temporary rather than permanent dwellings.
Watercolor by Karl Bodmer, ca. 1833
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Finnish writer Aarne Erkki Järvinen developed and presented the shape of the modern loue in 1931. With its easy setup and compact figure, the loue works best for solitary sleepers.