After you have
wandered around the building and perhaps had a chance to study its plan
and elements of the excavated remains
and the reconstructed model,
there are some questions that you may be able to answer. Think about what
you have learned here and in other classes about ancient Greece and world
has a central courtyard with all rooms opening off of it; no corridors
know another building that has a central courtyard?
has only one entrance and a fairly solid wall all the way around the rest
of the spaces. The building seems isolated.
your house have one?
type of climate exists in southeastern Greece?
would an interior courtyard be a useful feature in such a climate?
you think of other areas of the world where interior courtyards are used?
we think that this was a house?
These kinds of
comparisons (to other buildings of similar form, similar location, and
similar construction) help archaeologists decide what function a building
had and when the building might have been constructed. Archaeologists
also study the distribution and type of artifacts found with a building.
At Vari, they found mostly cooking pots, a few containers and dishes, and
the odd-looking vessels found outside the house (which provide a major
clue to the particular occupation of the inhabitants).
types of buildings did the Greeks build?
this building different from or similar to those?
(Compare, for example, the location and design of the columns, the
presence or absence of decoration, the arrangement of rooms, the size and
location of the building, and the materials used.)
is this house similar to or different from yours and why?
(Base your answer on your knowledge of the climate, topography, culture,
and lifestyle in ancient Greece and in your own culture.)
The Vari House
faces toward the south, and the layout of rooms along the north side are
shaded by a verandah roof. This layout follows closely what ancient
Greek and Roman writers tell us about the ideal setting for a dwelling:
it should be open and face toward the sun, it should be closed off from
cold north winds, and it should capture the heat and light of the sun appropriately
for the seasons. Further, the distribution of materials follows the
teachings of the ancient writers: place perishable building materials (in
the Vari House, the mudbrick of the walls and wood ceiling framing and
columns) between imperishable materials (in the Vari House, between a stone
foundation and ceramic tile roof) to protect the perishable materials from
The excavators found no shelters for keeping large animals nor any storage
facilities for grain; both items would be expected had this been a normal
farmstead. Based on the lack of these architectural features, archaeologists
deduced that this building as not used by a typical farmer.
know yet what the inhabitants of this building did for their livelihood?
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