The First Structures

The first structures humanity was able to create for itself didn't have signs on the lawn bearing titles like: "Built By General Contractors, Aurora, Colorado." In fact, there were no lawns or signs in existence at the time, which was more than 12,000 years ago when man was little more than a hunter-gatherer, continually scouring the plains and river valleys for his next meal. In those days, buildings were built solely to satisfy man's need for shelter. It was only later, when humans became more secure in their food supply, that they had extra time and energy to construct buildings of religious and artistic significance. Here are some of the primary types of structures used by early man:

Tents

Tents are the most basic form of human shelter, developed independently by indigenous tribes all over the world, from Troncones, Mexico to the depths of the African jungles. Because man, at his most basic, was a hunter-gatherer, the building materials he had earliest access to were rocks, sticks, and animal by-products such as skins, bone, and sinew. To create a tent, wooden sticks would be driven into the ground to form a frame and animal skins would be draped over it. The skins would then be either tied down with sinew or braided grass or weighted on the edges with stones.

Huts

Once humans traded their nomadic hunter-gatherer ways for the more sedentary farming lifestyle, the need arose for more permanent structures. Thus came the hut, the early predecessor to the home for sale. Usually built to house a single family unit, huts were constructed using stick frames which were tied at the top like a teepee or covered with a mat of thatched reeds. The covering was then made by weaving leaves and other vegetation into the sticks or by plastering the frame over with wet clay. This method is sometimes referred to as wattle-and-daub.

Communal Houses

Communal housing, because of its larger size, required a bit more ingenuity and effort, but we're still not into the realm of loop calibrators and central heating. These buildings had to have stronger frames made of thick timber rather than sticks, which was difficult to harvest using the stone tools they had at the time. The frames for communal houses used the same design we still use today for houses, with posts, ridge poles and rafters tied together with plant cord and covered with a thatched roof. Walls could be covered with tree bark, leaves, thatch, or clay.

Stone Structures

Early buildings and structures made from stone are the ones that most often survive the trip forward in time to the era of automobiles. Though generally limited in size because of the lack of construction machines, stone houses called dolmens were made by using flat stones for the walls and balancing another flat stone on top for a roof. Most were made by the combined physical effort of a number of village members, but some, like Stonehenge, are so impossibly large as to be beyond the abilities of humans unassisted by technology. Their origin remains a mystery.





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Wednesday, August 16, 2017