Tuesday, April 19, 2011

From Early Man's Tents to modern Palaces

The earliest human sought shelter, to protect themselves and their families against attack and the natural calamities. In satisfying these needs, they created ever more solid buildings, laying the foundations for modern community living. The many forms of habitation that developed reflected differences in climate, available materials, and the culture of the area and the status of the owner.

Stone Age men and women, though popularly seen as cave dwellers, did in fact build shelters for themselves. The remains of a branch shelter 300000 years old have been found at Terra Amata, near Nice in France. Much later, Homo sapiens moved north and east to hunt in areas bordering the great ice sheets. Some 15000 years ago hunters in Siberia were using tent like shelters made from animal skins, elephant’s tusks and bones.

Before 6000BC, the inhabitants of the Cypriot village of Khirokitia, located on the slopes of a river valley near the island’s south coast, built beehive shaped houses. Each beehive had a mud brick dome resting on a round limestone base, probably the easiest shape to build using the locally available materials similar structures have also been found, from the same period, on the Middle Eastern mainland. Inside the house, there was a hearth bench, and often brick piers to support an upper floor. Some may also have had annexes to house farm animals the courtyard outside had a well.

In the small Mesopotamian village of Tell Madhhur, a fire sometime in the 5th millennium spelt domestic catastrophe for the inhabitants of one house but left a treasure trove for archaeologists. Its walls survived and everyday objects were left in the ruins where they had formerly been used. A long room with a hearth formed the centre of the house, with smaller rooms opening from it on either sided. A store room stocked with pottery jars and a kitchen. An earthern ramp gave access to the roof which would have provided additional working and sleeping space, and other rooms used for various domestic activities. (Cont.)

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