Housing Development in Prehistory

There are examples of residential architecture in the Stone, Copper, Bronze and Iron Ages in the prehistoric period in Cyprus.

The Paleolithic Age (35000-10000 BC) (Epipalaeolithic Age, Old Stone Age) includes the period from the first emergence of humanity to the beginning of the Neolithic Age. The first settlements of Paleolithic people were tree cavities, rock shelters or caves (Figure 3). During this period, people hunted and gathered edible plants for food. Thus, these people, who lead a nomadic life, have implemented their shelters using materials and systems that can be easily built and abandoned. They lived in crowded groups by building their “temporary” shelters with light materials such as reeds, branches and mud they found in the environment.

Figure 3: Paleolithic Age (Habitat II, p. 380)

Although the first human life began with the thawing of the glaciers in the world, no signs of life of the Paleolithic Age human race were found in Cyprus [Gunnis, 1973, p.5].

With the Mesolithic age (10000-7000 BC), semi-sedentary life began in some parts of the world. Due to the hot-rainy climatic conditions and the changing vegetation, the human communities did not change their places constantly, but started to live in fixed village settlements where they could find enough food. Units such as small cellars and stoves were created to store their food in or around the house [Yıldız, 1997, p.18]. However, as in the Paleolithic Age, no traces of life were found in Cyprus from the Mesolithic Age.

The Neolithic period is the most important era of radical changes, such as a return to a farming lifestyle from a hunter-gatherer lifestyle. With the Neolithic Age in Cyprus, the first human life, the first production and the first village life outside the caves began. Initially, the first settlements were seen on the northern and southern coasts [Gunnis, 1973, p.5]. However, they later migrated to the inner parts of the island, towards the forest areas. Different residential plan types were found here during the excavations on the south coast of Limassol. They were circular and rectangular in plan. The ground floor plans of the rectangular ones have rounded corners and are built with walls. In houses that do not have an inner courtyard, installations such as toilets are build outside. Since there was no stove outside, the food was prepared inside.

Khirokitia, spread over an area of 250 meters on the 30th mile of the Nicosia-Limassol road, which was the most important settlement of Kalavassos, Sotira and the Neolithic period, right next to today’s Yeşilırmak village, across the Güzelyurt Bay called Petra Tou Limniti. are the first settlements (Figure 5).

Figure 5: Khirokitia Village, Cyprus (Karageorghis, 1982, p. 41)

Remains of many circular houses surrounded by large stone walls were found at Khirokitia, the foundations of which were made of uncultivated rubble, sun-dried mud chips or tree branches plastered with mud [Fletcher’s, 1996, p.30]. This type of house is called Tholos (Fig. 6).


Figure 6: Khirokitia (Fletcher’s, 1996, p.32).

The roofs of Khirokitia houses are dome-shaped according to the excavations carried out by P. Dikaios between 1936-1946 (Figure 7).

Figure 7: Tholos in Khirokitia was found as a result of excavations carried out by the Cyprus Department of Antiquities between 1936-46 (Nicolaou, 1968, p. 38).

During the middle and late periods of the Neolithic Age, the settlement is again Khirokitia and Troulli, the northern coast of Cyprus, and Sotira, on the south coast of Limassol, a few miles north of Kurium (Fig. 8). The ground floor plan is rectangular with 52 cm thick walls with rounded corners [Nicolaou, 1968, p.15-16].

Figure 8: Neolithic settlement in Sotira (Nicolaou, 1968, p. 39)

Pervin Abohorlu Doğramacı

Dr. Architect