1. Education
Send to a Friend via Email

Ancient Houses

Establishing shelter outside of a cave or rockshelter is one of the oldest inventions of humans. Archaeologists have recognized several styles of homes and dwellings made over the past 30,000 years, beginning with the earliest recorded ancient houses of mammoth bone huts. This guide to ancient houses includes detailed descriptions of several of these ancient house types.

Royal Palaces
The rich are always with us, so the saying goes, and there is plenty of archaeological evidence to back that up. This collection of elite residences--not just palaces but mansions and chiefly homes and other relatively wealthy places--will give you a taste of the (really old) good life.

House Hunting: The Archaeology of Ancient Houses
Having a home--a place to be protected from the weather or your enemies--is a long-held need for Homo sapiens. This article is a guide to how ancient house construction has changed through the ages, from an archaeological standpoint.

Cliff Dwellings
The term "Cliff dwellings" refers to a type of ancient house analogous to our modern day apartment block, and built by the Anasazi culture at places like Mesa Verde, in Colorado in the United States.

Desert Castles
Desert castles are an ancient house type of Islamic fortification built during the earliest days of Islamic expansion, in the 8th century AD.

Dugout Dwellings
Dugouts were a kind of housing used by European pioneers as first homes as they established their farmsteads in the northern middle west of the United States.

Dugouts and Dugout Dwellings (Photo Essay)
A photo essay describing excavations and historical research of archaeologist Donald Linebaugh, into a dugout dwelling built in Minnesota in 1870, assisted by descendants of the Norwegian pioneers who built it.

An earthlodge is a type of ancient house built by the Middle Missouri Tradition people of the North American mid-continent.

Gressbakken House
Gressbakken houses are a type of semi-subterranean house which were built between 5000-1800 BC bu maritime hunter-gatherers on the arctic coasts of Norway and Russia.

Hill Forts
Hill forts in archaeology describe ancient houses in villages built with defensive structures such as enclosures, moats, or ramparts.

A kiva is a special purpose ceremonial buildings used by ancient Puebloan people in the American southwest, still in use among contemporary puebloan people, where communities reunite to perform rituals and ceremonies.

Lake Dwellings
Lake dwellings are houses erected atop wooden pilings on the shores of European Alpine lakes between the Neolithic and Iron Ages.


Longphorts are houses that were built by the Vikings from the ships they rode in on. Come winter, a Viking group would beach their ship, and build a temporary residence from it.

Mammoth Bone Dwellings
A mammoth bone dwelling is a very early type of housing used by hunter gatherers in central Europe during the Late Pleistocene and constructed substantially of the bones and tusks of ancient mammoths.

Oosterhout Longhouses (Roman/Indigneous Netherlanders)
At the moment the Roman empire came to the lowlands of the Netherlands in the first century AD, the Iron Age farmsteads were simple affairs, longhouses that sheltered both people and cattle.

Oppida is the word given to the archaeological remains of fortified settlements throughout Europe by archaeologists, from a word used by Julius Caesar.

Perfectly Puuc Maya House at Chichen Itza
This cute little house at the Maya site of Chichen Itza has a roof comb, one of the hallmarks of the Puuc architectural style.

Pit House
A pit house (also spelled pithouse) is a type of dwelling that was excavated partly into the earth, from a few inches to more than three feet.

Tipis and Tipi Rings
Tipis were conical tents constructed of animal hide and used by Plains Indian peoples during prehistory.

Ancient Houses: History for Kids
A description and pictures of some of the ancient houses used throughout history, from History for Kids.

Tipis - Ancient Home of American Plains People
A tipi is an efficient, adaptable form of residence, used by North American nomadic groups for at least 500 years, similar to central Asian yurts.

You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.