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                                    Organization of neolithic settlements:house construction
neolithic settlements

The neolithic "triad": permanent habitation - agriculture - animal husbantry, is attested at many sites on the Greek mainland, from the earliest stage of the Neolithic period , the Preceramic (6800-6500 BC). From this earliest stage of man's efforts to house himself shallow pits have survived cut into the ground, the holes of wooden posts, floors of beaten earth and hearths. These are the building remains of only one type of dwelling, a hut of wood and grass. In the next period , the Early Neolithic (6500-5800 BC) , the types of settlement became more consolidated, usually in the form of small hamlets. Some of the largest ones , like Sesklo in Thessaly or Nea Makri in Attica , could be described as large villages. House


construction in this period was characterised by a diversity of dwelling types and the variety of materials used. There were curved , rectangular and square constructions of clay , unbaked brick and wood. Stone foundations for walls also appeared for the first time.

The results of the Early Neolithic achievements culminated in the following Middle Neolithic period (5800-5300 BC). The layouts of the settlements now took the form of large organized communities with rudimentary planning. For the first time small towns with streets and squares appeare. Some of them must have formed centres for other settlements in the general area. One such a centre was Sesklo in Magnesia. An important advance can be seen in the Middle Neolithic construction: the use of stone wall foundations and platforms for the houses becomes general , wooden pillars appear, the walls are plastered on the inside with mud and uprights are used to protect the foundations from rainwater and damp. The house plans are more regular and limited to two or three types: rectangular or square single-roomed structure and the square megaron.

   From the end of the 6th millenium BC onwards, the cultural remains reveal a large break between the previous periods and the following ones, the Late (5300-4500 BC) and the Final Neolithic (4500-3300) BC . Many of the hitherto flourishing settlements were abandoned or declined , and at the same time new ones sprang up on the lowlands as well as by the sea even on the islands , while caves started to be used again.

   Some large settlements were surrounded by ditches (Sesklo) and later by stone enclosures (Sesklo, Dimini) , which do not appear to have been fortifications. This innovation, where and when it appeared , was also followed by the appearance of the imposing megarons. This new type of building consisted of three rooms in a row: the porch of vestibule , the main hall and the rear chamber. This also formed the plan of the central hall of the Mycenaean palaces and later the central core of the temples of the historical period.




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