Megaron Houses

In Mycenaean (Greek) palace complexes and private houses, perhaps the most distinctive feature was the megaron, a central rectangular hall, which was developed during the Late Neolithic I period, 5300–4800 BCE. Predecessors of the Mycenaean megaron form evolved in Mesopotamia, the Levant, and Minoan Crete.

The central room of the megaron, the naos, contained four columns arranged in a rectangle around a central open hearth, the fire of which was vented through an opening, oculus, in the roof. The east wall of naos also contained the ruler's throne facing the fire.

The entrance portico to the Greek megaron contained two columns set between slightly projecting piers (antis) which terminated the walls of the naos—an arrangement called distyle in antis. The back wall of the portico contained a door, or doors, leading to the anteroom, pronaos, and beyond through a single central door into the naos.

Similar architecture has been found throughout the southern Levant, in Upper Mesopotamia dating from the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB) , c. 8,800-6,500 BCE, and Minoan Crete, which developed from the Mesolithic Natufian and northeastern Anatolian cultures. Although similar to the later Greek (Aegean) megarons, these lacked the open porticos supported by two columns.

The megaron can be viewed as a precursor of the Greek temple that evolved onwards in Classical Greek and Roman temples, in the churches and cathedrals of the Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance times; even today the spatial elements of the megaton can be found in the conceptual form of public architecture worldwide.

Plan Key:

Levantine megaron houses or "pier houses":
A & B: Beidha Level II, near Petra, Jordan
C: Beisamoun, northern Israel
D & E: 'Ain Ghazal, Amman, Jordan
F, G, & H: Jericho, Palestine, West Bank
I: Yiftahel, northern Israel

Mycenaean megaron house
J: Pylos, Messenia, Peloponnese, Greece

Elevation above sea level: Varies

Materials: Mud brick upper walls over ashlar stone low walls, lime plastered, lime cement floor, roof wood beam supporting brush and clay roofing (of unknown geometry or slope).

Data for these CG models:
1. Biers, William R., 1996; The Archaeology of Greece: An Introduction; Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY, 1996.
2. Müller, Valentin, 1944; Development of the "Megaron" in Prehistoric Greece; American Journal of Archaeology, Vol. 48, No. 4 (Oct. - Dec., 1944), pp. 342-348, Published By: Archaeological Institute of America.
3. https://www.brown.edu/Departments/Joukowsky_Institute/courses/greekpast/4888.html
4. Byrd, B.F., and Banning, E.B. 1988; Southern Levantine Pier Houses:; Intersite Architectural Patterning During the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B. ; Paléorient, Vol. 14, No. 1 (1988), pp. 65-72, Published By: Paleorient and CNRS Editions.
5. Banning, E.B., 2003; Housing Neolithic Farmers; Near Eastern Archaeology; Mar-Jun 2003; 66, 1/2; ProQuest pg. 4.

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