In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Greek Domestic Architecture c. 800 bce to c. 100 bce

  • Introduction
  • Early Discussions
  • Architectural Elements and ‘Room Function’
  • From “Domestic Architecture” to “Domestic Space”
  • Housing in Ancient Athens
  • Domestic Gardens
  • Rural Housing

Classics Greek Domestic Architecture c. 800 bce to c. 100 bce
Lisa Nevett
  • LAST REVIEWED: 19 September 2023
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 May 2021
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195389661-0364


This article discusses research on the housing of culturally-Greek settlements dating between c. 800 BCE and c. 100 BCE but with an emphasis on the central part of this period, and offers an overview of the various approaches. (Information on individual sites can be found by consulting the volumes listed under Period-Specific Overviews). While surviving textual sources shaped early research, relevant surviving texts are very limited in their number and scope. The most detailed source of information about Greek domestic architecture (and also about the organization of domestic activities) is the excavated remains of the houses themselves, which offer access to a wider range of aspects of the construction, in a greater variety of locations. Although the domestic buildings in ancient Greek settlements have historically received less attention from excavators than monumental civic and religious ones, sufficient evidence exists from which to generalize, and the available database continues to grow. This, coupled with the application of ever more sophisticated theoretical frameworks and archaeological field methods, has meant that the majority of current scholarship has come to focus on excavated houses. Over more than 150 years of research, the questions asked about domestic architecture have shifted, from the basic appearance of a house or attempts to ascertain how closely archaeological findings map onto the descriptions of ancient writers, toward analyses of a range of larger issues which include social relationships, the organization of the domestic economy, the cultural identities of households in various parts of the Mediterranean, and the way in which households changed between the earlier first millennium BCE and Roman times. Throughout the period covered here, it is impossible to be certain whether the small sample of houses that have been excavated is representative of the range that were originally inhabited: it is likely that the homes of wealthier members of society are over-represented, since they were probably larger and more sturdily-built, hence surviving better in the archaeological record and more easily identified and excavated by archaeologists.

Primary Sources

The primary sources on Greek housing break into two types: the ancient texts, and the remains of the buildings themselves. These types are discussed in turn below.

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