Tiny Houses of the Ancient World

Tiny houses of ancient world Photo by:Steven Reynolds

One of the things that I find so interesting about tiny homes is that they have been most prolific throughout history. If you look back through our history, small homes/dwellings have been the mainstay for most of the earth’s populace.

Looking back even through America’s history, some of the best examples of tiny dwellings are here.  Take a look at the Anasazi (Old Ones)of the Mid-West and West. They initially lived in shallow, earthen dugout areas (predecessor to the Hopi and Zuni Kivas) with a simple roof for a greater part of their existence in history, this was know as the Basketmaker period. However, there was a time period of when they moved away from the nomadic lifestyle, and established themselves into a more stabilized living quarters. This was the Puebla period for the Old Ones.

Initially, the Anasazi lived on top of cliffs and built their homes of the material known to many as adobe.watch tower Now these were not homes in the sense of what we think of today. It was more of a collection of apartments with a communal area that was centralized. Gradually, whether it was from the need to expand the crop areas to support the large numbers of people or to protect themselves from attack from enemies is still unknown. The most impressive of these dwellings is Yellow Jacket near Cortez, Colorado. This amazing complex consisted of 1,800 apartments and housed over 3,000 people with a cistern that held over 500,000 gallons of water.  They lived in this communal environment until around the 1300’s, when everyone simply left and faded into history. Several tribes today state that they are part of what is left of the Anasazi.

One of my favorite trips with my husband, was to the cliff dwellings in Manitou Springs, Colorado. It is here that there are beautiful examples of the bluff dwellers homes. One can see separate living quarters for individual families, as well as the Kiva Kivathat was centrally located. Even the tower that was set to the front of the Pueblo was beautiful. It is speculated,that this was for defensive purposes, a watchtower, if you will.

Of course there are other examples of cliff dwellings throughout the world as well. Guyaju, China; just 57 miles outside of Beijing. This cliff dwelling is hewn from the hill side with approximately 110 rooms. Another slightly more popular (in the sense of Pop culture) is the Matmata village in Tunisia. The Hotel Sidi Driss was used in the film Star Wars for Luke Skywalker and his aunt and uncle Lars. In Italy, the town of Sassi de Matera was still occupied until the 1950’s when the local government shut down the town, relocating many of the occupants. There are still some resolute types still living there. Bandiagara of the Dogon Country in Mali, have beautiful and unique. They were initially home to the Tellem, but were later driven out by the Dogon people of Mali. The Kandovan of Eastern Azerbaijan built an incredible collection of dwellings that are carved from the compressed volcanic ash. These strange alien like structures resemble termite hills. A couple of ancient cliff dwellers are located in Cappodocia in Turkey, Uchisar and Ortahisar. Both cities were carved from rocky hillsides. Ortahisar is literally translated to Middle castle, and is situated in the middle of the town of Goreme, which is located in the middle of the Turkish countryside. Both cities have been slowly crumbling away, recent renovations have be initiated in Ortahisar. Unfortunately, Uchisar languishes as it crumbles away to the point that the last inhabitant reluctantly left in the 1950’s.

Looking at these unusual homes built on the side of cliffs or mountains, one cannot help themselves but to admire the living that these civilizations literally carved out for themselves. Not to mention the security and beauty that this existance allowed them.