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Homes have always been an incredibly important part of our lives. We spend a majority of our times in our homes. It’s where we host our friends and live with our families, where we cook and clean and play. We contribute all sorts of little intimate details to our homes, whether it be a miniature salt lamp, modern glass end tables, a clear erase board, a black glass table, custom made glass cabinets or other smaller or larger things. Whatever we decide to put in our homes, we should always do it with care and reverence for ourselves and the other people that live with us. But what have homes looked like throughout history? That is an incredibly broad question that doesn’t have a lot of easy answers. The first homes, as it were, were likely no more than small camps or tents that early peoples lived in. For example, there is a cave system in France that houses hundreds of individual cave drawings of unknown origin. We have some idea of who painted them but not why or how. Or what for. What is important, in this context, is that these paintings were drawn deep in caves set into mountains so we at least know that it is likely this was a fairly common place for early peoples to make their homes. What isn’t exactly clear is whether other tribes lived in this cave system or whether it was only one. This might seem trivial but it is actually very important because it would determine just how the people who lived in the area treated their home space. Of course, we know that early peoples were not sedentary as we are now but actually highly mobile and moved a lot to follow the big game that they were hunting. There likely was no conception of a home as we have now, that is, a sole dwelling place where we rest and shelter ourselves. It is likely they saw these caves and the forest clearings where they lived as temporary shelters, usable only until the animals moved on and so did they. Where did this change, then? When did we make the jump from traipsing into unknown places all over the world to a more still life? What sort of life is better for us, the former or the latter? You might be surprised to know that it turns that we still aren’t sure. But we have some vague ideas.
Homes Throughout History
Today, we might be proud of our custom made glass cabinets and high end furniture and fancy heated homes but it wasn’t always this way. The modern idea of a home actually likely got started by the first settled cultures which are thought to have been located in the Middle East. In ancient cultures like Sumeria and Mesopotamia, we don’t yet see a proliferation of custom made glass cabinets but we do see evidence that people had begun to live in one area, cottages and huts, primarily thanks to the surplus of food that the local government had accumulated from large scale farming. These early homes were very simple and not yet complicated, just a few rooms for families to live. They were often very much on top of each other as well, with little room in between them. Cities would stay this way for much of history but the idea caught on in the wilds too and eventually smaller towns began to spring up, places where there was more room and houses could be bigger. After a few centuries, the idea really took hold and more and more tribes and people settled down and started to farm. This led to a surplus of food and more and more homes which were built in as many styles and customs as there were cultures in the world. As civilizations rose and fell and became less and more complex according to various societal substrates, the idea of a singular dwelling home, one complete with custom made glass cabinets and all sorts of other trappings to reflect wealth, began to become, if not the norm, then at least part of the norm. Furniture and the home were born together in this way.


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July 2024