From the oldest structures to man-made houses, the search is on for the traces of the past. We present you with a list of homes, which are thought to be the oldest houses in the world.

1. Palace of Minos, Greece

  • Archaeologists: Initial discoverers of the palace.
  • Periods: Neolithic to Late Bronze Age.
  • Location: Heraklion, Crete, Greece

Knossos Palace is located just south of Heraklion, near the northern coast of Crete. Built by a civilization we call the Minoans, it covers approximately 150,000 square feet, the size of over two football fields, and was surrounded by a city in ancient times. The site rose to prominence in the early 20th century when it was excavated and restored by a team led by British archaeologist Arthur Evans. This “first palace” was damaged (probably by earthquakes) around 1700 BC. and a second palace was built above it. Recently, however, researchers have questioned the extent of the damage to this “first palace,” write researchers Colin Macdonald and Carl Knappett in a chapter of the book “Intermezzo: Intermediacy and Regeneration in Middle Minoan III Palatial Crete”. The articles published in their book raise the possibility that instead of a “first” and “second” palace, there were several phases of renovation and change that occurred over a period of several centuries.


2. Star Carr House

  • Location: Scarborough, North Yorkdhire, England
  • Founded: Approximately 9300 BC
  • Period: Messolithic

Star Carr is a Mesolithic (Middle Stone Age) archaeological site, dating to around 9000 BC, just centuries after the end of the last Ice Age. It has become world famous in the archaeological world due to the preservation of artefacts found buried deep in the peat. Star Carr, situated just a little south and inland of Scarborough is a truly important archeological site beneath flat, peaty fields in North Yorkshire’s Vale of Pickering. It dates back to the middle Stone Age. Star Carr is famous, among other things for evidence found in 2008 of the ‘earliest house in Britain’, a structure of timber posts around a shallow round hollow on what at that time was an area of elevated ground beside a lake shore. To call it a house is a bit of a stretch, but the clues – a series of post-holes, evidence for a hearth and indications from organic content of the stony soil that vegetation was used as bedding or matting – suggest this Stone Age hunter-gatherer’s dwelling was maintained over several generations.


3. Knap of Howar, Scotland 

  • Location: Papa Westray, Orkney KW17 2BU, United Kingdom
  • Founded: 3700 BC

Papay Island, located about 20 miles north of Kirkwall, is home to 60 archaeological sites. Among these are the incredibly well-preserved remains of the earliest known dwellings of Orkney – and the oldest standing buildings in northern Europe. These structures, two oblong stone houses, date from around 3600 BC and have been continuously occupied by a series of Neolithic farmers for at least five centuries. Knap o ‘Howar, Papay The buildings, on the west coast of the island, were discovered in the 1930s, when severe marine erosion revealed deposits of piled up material, as well as evidence of well-constructed stone walls. The two connected structures formed a dwelling house and a multipurpose workshop/barn. With walls still standing to a height of 1.6 metres (5 feet), the dwellinghouse is the largest and best preserved of the two buildings. It is reasonably spacious and divided into two living areas by large upright stone slabs. The outer chamber has a low stone bench running along the wall, while excavations in the other chamber indicated that it was probably a kitchen of sorts, with a central hearth and footings for wooden benches.


4. Skara Brae

  • Year Built: c.3100 BCE
  • Location:  Mainland, Orkney, Scotland

Skara Brae is a Neolithic site, consisting of ten stone structures, near Skaill Bay, Orkney, Scotland. Today the village is located on the shore, but when it was inhabited (around 3100-2500 BCE) it would have been further inland. The constant erosion of the land over the centuries has changed the landscape considerably and interpretations of the site, depending on its current location, have had to be reassessed in light of this. The name “Skara Brae” is a corruption of the old name of the site, “Skerrabra” or “Styerrabrae” which designated the mound that buried (and thus preserved) the buildings of the village. The name by which the original inhabitants knew the site is unknown. Skara Brae is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.


5. Roman Painted House

  • Year Built: c.200 CE
  • Location:  Dover, England

The Roman Painted House, the finest Roman House on show in Britain, was discovered by Kent Archaelogical Rescue Unit. Forty years of excavation across ancient Dover by the Unit have uncovered 50 major structures. The Painted House was the best preserved and is now a major tourist attraction. Built about AD 200 it formed part of a large mansio or official hotel, for travellers crossing the Channel. It stood outside the great naval fort of the Classis Britannica, but in AD 270 it was demolished by the Roman army during the construction of a larger fort.  The long-lost Roman ‘Saxon Shore’ fort, predicted by Sir Mortimer Wheeler and found by the Kent Unit in 1970, lies buried under modern Dover. A large section of its west wall, together with a major bastion, survive inside the Roman House cover building. Over 700,000 visitors have seen the Roman House which is open for 150 days each year. Admission charges and voluntary effort almost cover the running-costs. The Scheme won four national awards, including “The Best Preservation of an Archaeological Site in Britain” (Country Life Award). “Outstanding Tourist Enterprise” (B.T.A. Award) and “Museum of the Year Award”.

 

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