Ancient Greek Houses and Households: Chronological, Regional, and Social Diversity

Ancient Greek Houses and Households: Chronological, Regional, and Social Diversity

Ancient Greek Houses and Households: Chronological, Regional, and Social Diversity

Ancient Greek Houses and Households: Chronological, Regional, and Social Diversity


Seeking to expand both the geographical range and the diversity of sites considered in the study of ancient Greek housing, Ancient Greek Houses and Households takes readers beyond well-established studies of the ideal classical house and now-famous structures of Athens and Olynthos.

Bradley A. Ault and Lisa C. Nevett have brought together an international team of scholars who draw upon recent approaches to the study of households developed in the fields of classical archaeology, ancient history, and anthropology. The essays cover a broad range of chronological, geographical, and social contexts and address such topics as the structure and variety of households in ancient Greece, facets of domestic industry, regional diversity in domestic organization, and status distinctions as manifested within households.

Ancient Greek Houses and Households views both Greek houses and the archeological debris found within them as a means of investigating the basic unit of Greek society: the household. Through this approach, the essays successfully point the way toward a real integration between material and textual data, between archeology and history.

Contributors include William Aylward (University of Wisconsin, Madison), Nicholas Cahill (University of Wisconsin, Madison), Manuel Fiedler (Freie Universität, Berlin), Franziska Lang (Humboldt Universität, Berlin), Monike Trümper (Universität Heidelberg), and Barbara Tsakirgis (Vanderbilt University, Nashville).


Lisa C. Nevett

The aim of this volume is to bring together a series of case-studies in which the archaeological evidence for housing is used to address a variety of questions about Greek households. Our focus is on settlements in Greece itself and Asia Minor during the Archaic, Classical, and Hellenistic periods (Map 1.1), and the chapters included here form part of a wider body of research in which new ways of approaching this material are being explored, both to provide fresh angles on familiar questions and to open up new areas for investigation. Also implicit is a testing of different ways of thinking about and interpreting domestic architecture and its associated Wnds, and an exploration of the range of problems to which such data can be applied.

The use of domestic architecture and assemblages as a source in this way is a relatively recent phenomenon: in the past, the small scale and simple construction of most Archaic and Classical Greek houses meant that they received only limited attention in comparison with the contemporary public architecture. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries there was a tendency to combine discussion of the layout of archaeologically recovered housing with what little could be gleaned about architecture and spatial organization from textual sources. Thus, while the newly-discovered remains of Late Bronze Age palatial structures were used to illuminate the aristocratic dwelling of the “Homeric world,” and the Hellenistic houses being excavated on Delos provided a quasi-evolutionary link between Greek and Roman domestic life, the lack of any Classical houses with comparable levels of preservation meant that dwellings of this date were necessarily understood principally through textual evidence.

The twentieth century brought a progressive enrichment of the archaeological database, including a range of evidence for houses of the Wfth and fourth centuries. Detailed studies of individual sites began early on to concentrate on increasingly detailed descriptions of the architectural, and subsequently also the artifactual, evidence. Key sites include Olynthus . . .

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