Prehistoric storage pits

Storage pits were underground cists used by many people in the past to protect the seeds for the following year's crops and surplus food from being eaten by insects and rodents. The underground pits were sometimes lined and covered, for example with slabs of stone and bark and tightly sealed with adobe.[1]


Sannai-Maruyama site in Aomori, Aomori Prefecture, Japan, contains storage pits that were used when hunter-gatherers transitioned from a nomadic lifestyle to settled villages about 3900 BC to 2900 BC. Large storage pits were built underground to conceal their presence, a preferred method used by mobile populations in many parts of the world.[2][3][4]

Worlebury Camp storage pits are 93 storage pits found at the Iron Age hill fort that stood north of the town of Weston-super-Mare in Somerset, England. The pits were cut into bedrock for "keeps", one is a ditch for protection[5]), and 74 are outside the "keep" but still enclosed within the exterior walls.[6] The inhabitants used them to store grain, as is evidenced by the kernels of barley and wheat and the shards of pots that were found in the pits. Also found were remains of burned woven baskets and, dated to the 2nd or 1st century BC, sling stones and spindle whorls.[6][7] and close to the village of Worle.[8] Remains of human skeletons were found in 18 of the pits,[9] 10 of which show evidence of a violent death.[10][11]

Māori storage pit sites remain clearly visible in many place in New Zealand.[12][13] Pits were dug into soft rock faces as well as into earth, especially in Maori Pa (hillforts). Maori storage pits can be confused with fighting pits and also pits which were excavated to extract drainage material, especially on old river terraces where pumice had been deposited. The pumice was mixed with heavier soil to promote drainage for growing kumara (sweet potato), the principal vegetable crop of the Maori after about 1500. The Maori name for a storage pit is rua. An excavation found such storage pits on the sloping banks of the Waikato River below the Waikato Museum in early 2012.

Derech Hadorot 3

Granaries from an Iron Age Israelite fortress in the Negev, reconstructed at Derech Hadorot, Hecht Museum, Haifa

Weston-super-Mare, Worlebury hillfort - - 134707

Worlebury storage pits


  1. ^ Man in the San Juan Valley. Aztec Ruins National Monument, National Park Service. January 13, 2001. Retrieved 10-18-2011.
  2. ^ Shibuya, Tomoko. "Sannai-Maruyama excavation illuminating Jomon life" The Japan Times 6 Oct. 1997. Retrieved 12 Nov. 2008.
  3. ^ Habu, Junko. "Growth and decline in complex hunter-gatherer societies: a case study from the Jomon period" Sannai Maruyama site, Japan.
  4. ^ Sannai-Maruyama. "The Sannai Maruyama Site." Sannai Maruyama. Sannai-Maruyama Site Preservation Office. Web. 7 Dec. 2011.
  5. ^ "Fosse". Princeton University. Retrieved 19 December 2010.
  6. ^ a b Dymond, Charles William (1886). Worlebury, an Ancient Stronghold in the County of Somerset. John Wright and Co. Printer, Stone Bridge.
  7. ^ "Fortified England - Worlebury Camp". Fortified England. Retrieved 7 December 2010.
  8. ^ "Welcome to the web site of the Worlebury Residents' Association". Worlebury Residents' Association. Retrieved 6 November 2010.
  9. ^ "Worlebury Camp". Megalithic Portal. Retrieved 24 January 2010.
  10. ^ Gerry Brooke (December 1, 2009). "Footsteps into History - Worlebury". Bristol Evening Post. This is Bristol. Archived from the original on 5 May 2013. Retrieved 29 October 2010.
  11. ^ "Weston super Mare - A Brief History". Weston-super-Mare. Retrieved 19 December 2010.
  12. ^ "Pit Complex, Titirangi Station,
  13. ^ "Historic Opapaka Pa",
Hidden Cave

Hidden Cave is an archaeological cave site located in the Great Basin near Fallon, Nevada, United States. It got its name from Mark Harrington, who first excavated the cave and had a hard time finding the entrance, who said at the time, "This is one hidden cave!" It was excavated originally in the 1930s by Harrington and then excavated twice more before being returned to for the final time in 1978 by David Hurst Thomas for a more in depth excavation. The site dates back to the early Desert Archaic Culture from c. 4000 to 2000 years ago. Thousands of Archaic artifacts have been found here, and the site "provides important, if unusual clues about Desert Archaic lifeways". Hidden Cave was not lived in, but used as storage site for goods and tools for the 2000 years of its survival.


A pit-house (or pithouse) is a building that is partly dug into the ground, and covered by a roof. Besides providing shelter from extremes of weather, these structures may also be used to store food (just like a pantry, a larder, or a root cellar) and for cultural activities like the telling of stories, dancing, singing and celebrations. General dictionaries also describe a pit-house as a dugout, and it has similarities to a half-dugout.In archaeology, a pit-house is frequently called a sunken featured building and occasionally (grub-)hut or grubhouse, after the German name Grubenhaus They are found in numerous cultures around the world, including the people of the American Southwest, the ancestral Pueblo, the ancient Fremont and Mogollon cultures, the Cherokee, the Inuit, the people of the Plateau, and archaic residents of Wyoming (Smith 2003) in North America; Archaic residents of the Lake Titicaca Basin (Craig 2005) in South America; Anglo-Saxons in Europe; and the Jōmon people in Japan. Anglo-Saxon pit-houses may have actually represented buildings for other functions than just dwellings.

Usually, all that remains of the ancient pit-house is a dug-out hollow in the ground and any postholes used to support the roof. In the nineteenth century, it was believed that most prehistoric peoples lived in pit-houses, although it has since been proved that many of the features thought of as houses were in fact food prehistoric storage pits or served another purpose.

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