Station: [208] Linear Pottery Houses

Linear Pottery culture houses are impressive because they were so large.  Six metres in width and 25 to 35, sometimes even 50 metres in length, were not unusual dimensions for these long rectangular houses. But, why did the people of the early Neolithic build the largest houses of the entire Neolithic period?

Perhaps these early farmers had to make their presence felt as newcomers in the foreign, densely wooded landscape. They created large houses that functioned like islands to protect themselves against external threats, of whatever kind.

“Nothing is more enduring than a regular hole.”

This famous saying was uttered more than 100 years ago by the prehistorian Carl Schuchardt, when commenting on the phenomenon of post-holes. These dark, generally round discolorations are found in the ground and indicate the places where posts used to stand. These post-marks now allow us to establish the outlines of prehistoric houses.  The Linear pottery culture people divided their houses into three parts. The well-insulated central part, which is almost always the same size, was the living space in the houses that in Saxony, were usually aligned North-South. The southern end functioned as a sort of front hall, which varied in size and may have also been used for storing food. The rear part may have been used as a kind of shed.

The walls were made of rows of closely-set posts that were woven together with wattle and daub and thus provided shelter from the sun, the cold and the rain.  Other interior posts, set further apart and more deeply held the roof up.  Given a wall height of 1.5 metres, these posts must have supported roof ridges that rose to heights of between 5 to 6 metres.  These extensive roofs were covered with bark strips.  Our knowledge of their building and carpentry techniques is based on the well structures. We don’t really know what their houses looked like – maybe the walls were covered with bright ornamentation, inside and outside? Each house would have been home to a family of about ten. But the whole neighbourhood would almost certainly have joined forces to erect one of these houses.

During the following Stroke ornamented Pottery culture , the people stopped erecting such massive structures. Their houses now came in trapeze or cigar-shaped outlines, with no uniform subdivisions. It’s possible that several families inhabited these houses at the same time.