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Neolithic long house

Neolithic long house

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The Neolithic long house was a long, narrow timber dwelling built by the first farmers in Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 beginning at least as early as the period 5000 to 6000 BC
Anno Domini
and Before Christ are designations used to label or number years used with the Julian and Gregorian calendars....

. This type of architecture represents the largest free-standing structure in the world in its era. Long houses are present across numerous regions and time periods in the archaeological record.

It is thought that these Neolithic
Neolithic
The Neolithic Age, Era, or Period, or New Stone Age, was a period in the development of human technology, beginning about 9500 BC in some parts of the Middle East, and later in other parts of the world. It is traditionally considered as the last part of the Stone Age...

 houses had no windows and only one doorway. The end farthest from the door appears to have been used for grain storage with working activities being carried out in the better lit door end and the middle used for sleeping and eating.

Twenty or thirty people, could have lived in each house with villages of six or seven houses known. They first appeared in central Europe in connection with the early Neolithic
Neolithic
The Neolithic Age, Era, or Period, or New Stone Age, was a period in the development of human technology, beginning about 9500 BC in some parts of the Middle East, and later in other parts of the world. It is traditionally considered as the last part of the Stone Age...

 culture
Archaeological culture
An archaeological culture is a recurring assemblage of artifacts from a specific time and place, which are thought to constitute the material culture remains of a particular past human society. The connection between the artifacts is based on archaeologists' understanding and interpretation and...

s such as the Linearbandkeramic or Cucuteni culture
Cucuteni culture
The Cucuteni-Trypillian culture, also known as Cucuteni culture , Trypillian culture or Tripolye culture , is a late Neolithic archaeological culture which flourished between ca...

.

Structurally, the Neolithic long house was supported by rows of large timbers holding up a pitched roof. The walls would not have supported much weight and would have been quite short beneath the large roof. Sill beams ran in foundation trenches along the sides to support the low walls. A long house would measure around 20 metres in length and 7 metres in width.

Examples


The Balbridie
Balbridie
Balbridie is the site of a Neolithic timberhouse in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, situated in the south Deeside near the B9077 road. This archaeological site is one of the earliest known permanent neolithic settlements in Scotland, dating to 3400 to 4000 BC...

 timber house in what is present day Aberdeenshire
Aberdeenshire
Aberdeenshire is one of the 32 unitary council areas in Scotland and a lieutenancy area.The present day Aberdeenshire council area does not include the City of Aberdeen, now a separate council area, from which its name derives. Together, the modern council area and the city formed historic...

, Scotland offers an outstanding example of these early timber structures. Archaeological excavations have revealed extant timber postholes that delineate the support pieces of the original structure. This site is strategically located in a fertile agricultural area along the River Dee
River Dee, Aberdeenshire
The River Dee is a river in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. It rises in the Cairngorms and flows through Strathdee to reach the North Sea at Aberdeen...

 very close to an ancient strategic ford of the river and also near an ancient timber trackway
Timber trackway
A timber trackway was typically used as the shortest route between two places in a bog or peatland and have been built for thousands of years as a means of getting between two points. Timber trackways have been identified in archaeological finds in Neolithic England, dating to 500 years before...

 known as the Elsick Mounth
Elsick Mounth
The Elsick Mounth is an ancient trackway crossing the Grampian Mountains in the vicinity of Netherley, Scotland. This trackway was one of the few means of traversing the Grampian Mounth area in prehistoric and medieval times. The highest pass of the route is attained within the Durris Forest...

.

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