Neolithic architecture

Neolithic architecture refers to structures encompassing housing and shelter from approximately 10,000 to 2,000 BC, the Neolithic period. In southwest Asia, Neolithic cultures appear soon after 10,000 BC, initially in the Levant (Pre-Pottery Neolithic A and Pre-Pottery Neolithic B) and from there into the east and west. Early Neolithic structures and buildings can be found in southeast Anatolia, Syria, and Iraq by 8,000 BC with agriculture societies first appearing in southeast Europe by 7,000 BC, and central Europe by ca. 5,500 BC (of which the earliest cultural complexes include the Starčevo-Koros (Cris), Linearbandkeramic, and Vinča.

Orkney Skara Brae
Excavated dwellings at Skara Brae

Housing

AMK - Linearbandkeramik Modell Hienheim 3
Kelheim (Lower Bavaria), Germany. Archaeological Museum: Reconstruction of a settlement of the Linear Pottery culture, 5th millennium BC.

The Neolithic peoples in the Levant, Anatolia, Syria, northern Mesopotamia and central Asia were great builders, utilising mud-brick to construct houses and villages. At Çatalhöyük, houses were plastered and painted with elaborate scenes of humans and animals.

In Europe, the Neolithic long house with a timber frame, pitched roof, thatched roof, and walls finished in wattle and daub could be very large, presumably housing a whole extended family. Villages might comprise only a few such houses.

Neolithic pile dwellings have been excavated in Sweden (Alvastra pile dwelling) and in the circum-Alpine area, with remains being found at the Mondsee and Attersee lakes in Upper Austria. Early archaeologists like Ferdinand Keller thought they formed artificial islands, much like the Scottish Crannogs, but today it is clear that the majority of settlements was located on the shores of lakes and were only inundated later on. Reconstructed pile dwellings are shown in open-air museums in Unteruhldingen and Zurich (Pfahlbauland).

In Romania, Moldova, and Ukraine, Neolithic settlements included wattle-and-daub structures with thatched roofs and floors made of logs covered in clay.[1] This is also when the burdei pit-house (below-ground) style of house construction was developed, which was still used by Romanians and Ukrainians until the 20th century.

Neolithic settlements and "cities" include:

Tombs and ritual monuments

Elaborate tombs for the dead were also built. These tombs are particularly numerous in Ireland, where there are many thousand still in existence. Neolithic people in the British Isles built long barrows and chamber tombs for their dead and causewayed camps, henges and cursus monuments.

Megalithic architecture

Anta Cerqueira em Couto Esteves
A dolmen at Couto Esteves, Portugal
Dscn5212-mane-braz 800x600
Megalithic tomb, Mane Braz, Brittany

Megaliths found in Europe and the Mediterranean were also erected in the Neolithic period. These monuments include both megalithic tombs, temples and several structures of unknown function. Tomb architecture is normally easily distinguished by the presence of human remains that had originally been buried, often with recognizable intent. Other structures may have had a mixed use, now often characterised as religious, ritual, astronomical or political. The modern distinction between various architectural functions with which we are familiar today, now makes it difficult for us to think of some megalithic structures as multi-purpose socio-cultural centre points. Such structures would have served a mixture of socio-economic, ideological, political functions and indeed aesthetic ideals.

The megalithic structures of Ġgantija, Tarxien, Ħaġar Qim, Mnajdra, Ta' Ħaġrat, Skorba and smaller satellite buildings on Malta and Gozo, first appearing in their current form around 3600 BC, represent one of the earliest examples of a fully developed architectural statement in which aesthetics, location, design and engineering fused into free-standing monuments. Stonehenge, the other well-known building from the Neolithic would later, 2600 and 2400 BC for the sarsen stones, and perhaps 3000 BC for the blue stones, be transformed into the form that we know so well. At its height Neolithic architecture marked geographic space; their durable monumentality embodied a past, perhaps made up of memories and remembrance.

In the Central Mediterranean, Malta also became home of a subterranean skeuomorphised form of architecture around 3600 BC. At the Ħal-Saflieni Hypogeum, the inhabitants of Malta carved out an underground burial complex in which surface architectural elements were used to embellish a series of chambers and entrances. It is at the Neolithic Ħal-Saflieni Hypogeum that the earliest known skeuomorphism first occurred in the world. This architectural device served to define the aesthetics of the underworld in terms that well known in the larger megaliths. On Malta and Gozo, surface and subterranean architecture defined two worlds, which later, in the Greek world, would manifest themselves in the myth of Hades and the world of the living. In Malta, therefore, we encounter Neolithic architecture which is demonstrably not purely functional, but which was conceptual in design and purpose.

Other structures

Early Neolithic water wells from the Linear Pottery culture have been found in central Germany near Leipzig. These structures are built in timber with complicated woodworking joints at the edges and have been dated between 5,200 and 5,100 BCE.[2]

The world's oldest known engineered roadway, the Sweet Track in England, also dates from this time.[3]

See also

References

  1. ^ Gheorghiu, D. (2010). The technology of building in Chalcolithic southeastern Europe, pp. 95-100. In Gheorghiu, D. (ed.), Neolithic and Chalcolithic Architecture in Eurasia: Building Techniques and Spatial Organisation. Proceedings of the XV UISPP World Congress (Lisbon, 4–9 September 2006) / Actes du XV Congrès Mondial (Lisbonne, 4-9 Septembre 2006), Vol 48, Session C35, BAR International Series 2097, Archaeopress, Oxford.
  2. ^ Early Neolithic Water Wells Reveal the World's Oldest Wood Architecture Tegel W, Elburg R, Hakelberg D, Stäuble H, Büntgen U (2012) Early Neolithic Water Wells Reveal the World's Oldest Wood Architecture. PLoS ONE 7(12): e51374. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0051374
  3. ^ "The Sweet Track". Ancient History Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2019-02-24.

External links

Bare Island projectile point

The Bare Island projectile point is a stone projectile point of prehistoric indigenous peoples of North America. It was named by Fred Kinsey in 1959 for examples recovered at the Kent-Halley site on Bare Island in Pennsylvania.

Celt (tool)

In archaeology, a celt is a long, thin, prehistoric, stone or bronze tool similar to an adze, a hoe or axe-like tool.

Cist

A cist ( or ; also kist ;

from Greek: κίστη or Germanic Kiste) is a small stone-built coffin-like box or ossuary used to hold the bodies of the dead. Examples can be found across Europe and in the Middle East.

A cist may have been associated with other monuments, perhaps under a cairn or long barrow. Several cists are sometimes found close together within the same cairn or barrow. Often ornaments have been found within an excavated cist, indicating the wealth or prominence of the interred individual.

This old word is preserved in the Swedish language, where "kista" is the word for a funerary coffin.

Cumberland point

A Cumberland point is a lithic projectile point, attached to a spear and used as a hunting tool. These sturdy points were intended for use as thrusting weapons and employed by various mid-Paleo-Indians (c. 11,000 BP) in the Southeastern US in the killing of large game mammals.

Eden point

Eden Points are a form of chipped stone projectile points associated with a sub-group of the larger Plano culture. Sometimes also called Yuma points, the first Eden points were discovered in washouts in Yuma County, Colorado. They were first discovered in situ at an ancient buffalo kill site near Eden, Wyoming by Harold J. Cook in 1941. The site, named after discoverer O. M. Finley, eventually yielded 24 projectile points, including eight Eden points, eight Scottsbluff points and one complete Cody point, both other sub-groups within the Plano group. Eden points are believed to have been used between 10,000 and 6,000 years ago by paleo-indian hunters in the western plains.

Eden points are the most common paleo-indian projectile points found today. They have been discovered across the western plain states, including Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska, and Montana.

Folsom point

Folsom points are a distinct form of knapped stone projectile points associated with the Folsom tradition of North America. The style of tool-making was named after the Folsom Site located in Folsom, New Mexico, where the first sample was found by George McJunkin within the bone structure of a bison in 1908. The Folsom point was identified as a unique style of projectile point in 1926.

Grattoir de côté

A Grattoir de côté (translates from French as Side Scraper) is an archaeological term for a ridged variety of steep-scrapers distinguished by a working edge on one side. They were found at various archaeological sites in Lebanon including Ain Cheikh and Jdeideh II and are suggested to date to Upper Paleolithic stages three or four (Antelian).

Grey Cairns of Camster

The Grey Cairns of Camster are two large Neolithic chambered cairns located about 8.5 miles (13.7 km) south of Watten and 5 miles (8.0 km) north of Lybster in Caithness, in the Highland region of Scotland. They are among the oldest structures in Scotland, dating to about 5,000 years ago. The cairns demonstrate the complexity of Neolithic architecture, with central burial chambers accessed through narrow passages from the outside. They were excavated and restored by Historic Scotland in the late 20th century and are open to the public.

Grinding slab

In archaeology, a grinding slab is a ground stone artifact generally used to grind plant materials into usable size, though some slabs were used to shape other ground stone artifacts. Some grinding stones are portable; others are not and, in fact, may be part of a stone outcropping.

Grinding slabs used for plant processing typically acted as a coarse surface against which plant materials were ground using a portable hand stone, or mano ("hand" in Spanish). Variant grinding slabs are referred to as metates or querns, and have a ground-out bowl. Like all ground stone artifacts, grinding slabs are made of large-grained materials such as granite, basalt, or similar tool stones.

Lamoka projectile point

Lamoka projectile points are stone projectile points manufactured by Native Americans what is now the northeastern United States, generally in the time interval of 3500-2500 B.C. They predate the invention of the bow and arrow, and are therefore not true "arrowheads", but rather atlatl dart points. They derive their name from the specimens found at the Lamoka site in Schuyler County, New York.

Pesse canoe

The Pesse canoe is believed to be the world's oldest known boat, and certainly the oldest known canoe. Carbon dating indicates that the boat was constructed during the early mesolithic period between 8040 BCE and 7510 BCE. It is now in the Drents Museum in Assen, Netherlands.

Plano point

In archeology, Plano point is flaked stone projectile points and tools created by the various Plano cultures of the North American Great Plains between 9000 BC and 6000 BC for hunting, and possibly to kill other humans.

They are bifacially worked and have been divided into numerous sub-groups based on variations in size, shape and function including Alberta points, Cody points, Frederick points, Eden points and Scottsbluff points. Plano points do not include the hollowing or 'fluting' found in Clovis and Folsom points.

Post and lintel

In architecture, post and lintel (also called prop and lintel or a trabeated system) is a building system where strong horizontal elements are held up by strong vertical elements with large spaces between them. This is usually used to hold up a roof, creating a largely open space beneath, for whatever use the building is designed for. The horizontal elements are called by a variety of names including lintel, header, architrave or beam, and the supporting vertical elements may be called columns, pillars, or posts. The use of wider elements at the top of the post, called capitals, to help spread the load, is common to many traditions.

The trabeated system is a fundamental principle of Neolithic architecture, ancient Indian architecture, ancient Greek architecture and ancient Egyptian architecture. Other trabeated styles are the Persian, Lycian, Japanese, traditional Chinese, and ancient Chinese architecture, especially in northern China, and nearly all the Indian styles. The traditions are represented in North and Central America by Mayan architecture, and in South America by Inca architecture. In all or most of these traditions, certainly in Greece and India, the earliest versions developed using wood, which were later translated into stone for larger and grander buildings. Timber framing, also using trusses, remains common for smaller buildings such as houses to the modern day.

The biggest disadvantage to a post and lintel construction is the limited weight that can be held up, and the small distances required between the posts. Ancient Roman architecture's development of the arch allowed for much larger structures to be constructed. The arcuated system spreads larger loads more effectively, and replaced the post and lintel trabeated system in most larger buildings and structures, until the introduction of steel girder beams in the industrial era. As with the Roman temple portico front and its descendants in later classical architecture, trabeated features were often retained in parts of buildings as an aesthetic choice. The classical orders of Greek origin were in particular retained in buildings designed to impress, even though they usually had little or no structural role.

Racloir

In archeology, a racloir, also known as racloirs sur talon (French for scraper on the platform), is a certain type of flint tool made by prehistoric peoples.

It is a type of side scraper distinctive of Mousterian assemblages. It is created from a flint flake and looks like a large scraper. As well as being used for scraping hides and bark, it may also have been used as a knife. Racloirs are most associated with the Neanderthal Mousterian industry. These racloirs are retouched along the ridge between the striking platform and the dorsal face. They have shaped edges and are modified by abrupt flaking from the dorsal face.

Teleilat el Ghassul

Teleilat el Ghassul (Tulaylât al-Ghassûl) is the site of several small hillocks containing the remains of a number of Neolithic and Chalcolithic villages in Jordan. It is the type-site of the Ghassulian culture, which flourished in the Southern Levant during the Middle and Late Chalcolithic period (c. 4400 – c. 3500 BC). It is located in the lower eastern Jordan Valley, opposite and a little to the south of Jericho and 5-6 kilometers northeast of the Dead Sea. Teleilat el Ghassul was occupied for a relatively long period of time during the Chalcolitic era - 8 successive Chalcolithic phases of occupation were identified there, most of them belonging to the Ghassulian culture.

Tholos de El Romeral

Tholos de El Romeral, situated 2.5 kilometres (1.6 mi) north east of the town of Antequera (Andalusia), is one of the most important examples of Neolithic architecture in southern Europe. Tholos de El Romeral, also known as Cueva de Romeral (Cave of Romeral) and Dolmen de Romeral, is a megalithic burial site built circa 1800 BCE. It is one of three tombs in region, the others being Dolmen de Menga and Dolmen de Viera, both situated to the south west.

In 2016, the dolmens of Menga, Viera, and El Romeral were all inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site under the name "Antequera Dolmens Site".

Tool stone

In archaeology, a tool stone is a type of stone that is used to manufacture stone tools,

or stones used as the raw material for tools.Generally speaking, tools that require a sharp edge are made using cryptocrystalline materials that fracture in an easily controlled conchoidal manner.

Cryptocrystalline tool stones include flint and chert, which are fine-grained sedimentary materials; rhyolite and felsite, which are igneous flowstones; and obsidian, a form of natural glass created by igneous processes. These materials fracture in a predictable fashion, and are easily resharpened. For more information on this subject, see lithic reduction.

Large-grained materials, such as basalt, granite, and sandstone, may also be used as tool stones, but for a very different purpose: they are ideal for ground stone artifacts. Whereas cryptocrystalline materials are most useful for killing and processing animals, large-grained materials are usually used for processing plant matter. Their rough faces often make excellent surfaces for grinding plant seeds. With much effort, some large-grained stones may be ground down into awls, adzes, and axes.

Uniface

In archeology, a uniface is a specific type of stone tool that has been flaked on one surface only. There are two general classes of uniface tools: modified flakes—and formalized tools, which display deliberate, systematic modification of the marginal edges, evidently formed for a specific purpose.

Yubetsu technique

The Yubetsu technique (湧別技法, Yūbetsu gihō) is a special technique to make microblades, proposed by Japanese scholar Yoshizaki in 1961, based on his finds in some Upper Palaeolithic sites in Hokkaido, Japan, which date from c. 13,000 bp.

The name comes from the Yūbetsu River (湧別川, Yubetsugawa), on the right bank of which the Shirataki (白滝遺跡, Shirataki Iseki) Palaeolithic sites were discovered.

To make microblades by this technique, a large biface is made into a core which looks like a tall carinated scraper. Then one lateral edge of the bifacial core is removed, producing at first a triangular spall. After, more edge removals will produce ski spalls of parallel surfaces.

This technique was also used from Mongolia to Kamchatka Peninsula during the later Pleistocene.

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