When it comes to historical constructions, we are used to admiring such monuments as churches, cathedrals or castles. However, you need to know that we can still come across some ancient residential buildings that have seen a few empires fall. Watch the gallery below and learn about the housing conditions of our ancestors.
#1 Sassi di Matera, 10,000 BC
Matera is a town in the south of Italy. One of its districts is Sasso Caveoso, consisting of houses dug in caves. The first were made as early as in the Stone Age (approximately 10,000 years ago). They were inhabited until 1950’s (without electricity and running water). This is when the Italian government relocated the citizens dwelling in the caves to live in apartment blocks. Now some of the caves have been converted into stores, restaurants and hotels.
#2 Knap of Howar 3,500 BC
A Neolithic farm of Knap of Howar dates back to 3,500 BC. It is on the Papa Westray island near the coast of Scotland. The farm was probably inhabited by one family, who apart from growing crops would also keep some cattle. It was built on grassy sand dunes and was surrounded by a 5-feet tall wall. The building was divided into a residential and a farming part.
#3 Jarlshof, 2,500 BC
This archaeological site is located on the Shetland Islands. Traces of the first settlements date back to 2,500 BC (the Neolithic Age). The preserved household are round. They were built of flat stones. Most likely they were roofed with wood and turf. The inside was illuminated with light coming through the chimney hole over the fireplace. The settlement was developed throughout the centuries (although the neolith household remains are still there) until it was abandoned in 17th century.
#4 Meymand, 3,000 – 2,000 BC
It’s a village in Iran. The first records of the settlement date back to 12,000 years ago. In fact, Meymand is still bustling with life. There are 400 caves, roughly one over another, and there are still 150 people living there.
#5 Mousa Broch, 300 BC
This massive tower is on the Shetland Islands. It was built at the end of the Iron Age. It was a residential and defensive structure. It was 45-feet tall and it was dry-built with flat stones.
Most probably upstairs there were residential parts while downstairs there was a fireplace, a pantry and a water reservoir.
#6 A Roman lighthouse, 2nd century BC
It is near the castle in Dover (England). It was erected by the Romans and is one of the three lighthouses that have survived the fall of the Roman Empire. It is over 45 feet tall and it was built of turf, sandstone, flint and brick.
#7 Saint George Monastery in Wadi Qel , 420 AD
It was built in Palestine by five hermits. At the beginning it was used for a weekly mass and a communal living. Later it was converted into a monastery. It was partially dug in rock. Its current shape is due to the renovation conducted between 1878 and 1901. The monastery is still inhabited by monks.
#8 Saltford Manor House, about 1148 AD
This house is in an English village called Saltford. It is thought to be the oldest house in Great Britain owned by a private person. It was built by Duke William of Gloucester. The roofs are supported by oak beams and to get to the second floor you have to take spiral stone stairs.
#9 Sky City, about 1150 AD
This settlement is located in New Mexico, USA. It is inhabited by the Acoma tribe Indians. The village (pueblo) is the oldest settlement in the USA that is still alive. It is located on a rock about 360 feet above the ground and consists of two-storey houses made of dried clay and stone.
#10 Kirkjubøargarður, 11th century
This wooden fishermen hut is on the Faroe Islands. It is regarded as the oldest wooden structure in the world still inhabited by people. Originally it was home to local bishops. Now it belongs to the Patursson family, who have been living there since 1550 AD. There is also a small museum.
#11 Kandovan, 13th century
This rocky village can be found in Iran. Its first houses are as old as 700 years. Its first inhabitants were probably people fleeing from the Mongolians. Kandovan grew in a river valley. The cone-shaped houses adhere one to another. They have two, three or four floors, with the last ones occupied by animals. There are 600 people inhabiting Kandovan now.
#12 Maison De Jeanne, 12th century
The house is in Aveyron (south of France). In the middle there is a well-preserved kitchen and a basement with drinking stations for animals. The second floor is wider and goes beyond the first floor structure. It was built like this to avoid the estate tax which in medieval France was calculated on the basis of the floor area. The house is available for visitors.
#13 Thoor Ballylee, 15th – 16th century
Thoor Ballylee is a settlement in Ireland. Its biggest attraction is the residential tower. It has got 4 floors with spiral stairs to get up and down. The structure is also referred to as the Yeats Tower as at the beginning of the 20th century William Butler Yeats, an Irish poet, bought it to spend his summer vacations there.