BECSKEREK, Great and Little, a city and a town in Hungary. The former is in the administrative district of Torontal, of which it is the administrative centre. It is situated on the Bega, 45 miles southwest of Temesvar, the two places being connected by canal. It is the centre of an important grain and cattle region and a silk worm industry. An old castle is an object of some interest. Pop. (1900) 26,407, about equally divided between Germans, Serbs and Magyars. Little Becskerek, nine miles northwest of Temesvar, is in the administrative district of Temes. Pop. (1900) 3,738.
BED, in modern domestic use, a framework (bedstead) supporting a mattress or cushion, with coverings, on which to take repose or to sleep. Originally a bed consisted merely of a hollowed-out place in the earth. Then, in the colder climates, the skins of animals were em ployed, not only to render the spot more com fortable, but as covering for the sake of warmth. In the warmer climates dried leaves or rushes or grass was employed for the same purpose, and at the present day there are tribes of savages whose beds still consist of such primitive arrangements.
Among the With the develop ment of civilization among the ancient peoples came the desire for greater physical comfort, and the bed was naturally one of the first articles of household furniture to be improved upon. The Egyptians were probably the first to discover that greater comfort could be ob tained in•a warm climate by a free circulation of the air under the bed. The paintings and inscriptions on the monuments indicate that long before the beginning of recorded history the Egyptians slept on elevated frames, or steads, resting on ornamental legs, which were reached by short steps, the mattress, consisting of dried rushes sewn into cloth coverings, rest ing on an elastic and open wickerwork of palm fibres. And as among peoples in warm climates to-day, the pillow was not soft, but hard, of wood. The prevalence of insects and snakes probably was another reason for the elevation of the bed from the ground.
Later, among the Babylonians and the As syrians, there was a further development of the bed, corresponding to the increase of luxury among the nobility, for the common people still continued to sleep on bundles of rushes or grass, as they have done through all the ages. Here the framework was made of gold and ivory and fine woods and was richly carved and ornamented. Gradually it became a habit to recline on the bed for rest during the day, so that it developed into the divan, where the monarch or noble would sit when listening to matters of state. To this day the throne room of the Turkish Sultan is also known as the Divan. Such references to the bed as may be found in the Bible indicate the importance of the bed in those days, as gI have decked my bed with coverings of tapestry, with carved works, with fine work of Egypt" (Prov. vii, 16).
Among the Greeks and The ancient Greeks had an elegant kind of beds in the form of open couches, the mattresses being stuffed with feathers or wool. These they used during the day too, much as chairs are used at the present time, and even reclined on them while eating. The luxury of the Orient did not develop in Greece to the same extent, for the Asiatics commonly said of the Greeks that they did not know how to sleep comfortably. When the Persian King, Artaxerxes, presented one of his magnificent beds to the Athenian envoy, Timogoras, he sent also an attendant skilled in preparing it.
The Romans copied their beds largely after the Greeks, though they added to their com fort by the invention of air cushions. After the downfall of the republic they began add ing the magnificent trappings and luxuries of the ancient Orientals. There were two kinds of beds: the glectus tricliniaris? or conch for re clining on at meals; and the glectus cubicularis,P which was for sleeping on at night. It is also said that it was the Romans who introduced the first beds into England, for when they invaded that country they taught the barbarian natives how to make straw or rush mattresses.