ARCH1720 Spring18 S01 How Houses Build People

ARCH1720 Spring18 S01 How Houses Build People

ARCH 1720: How Houses Build People

Spring 2018

Tues./Thurs. 10:30-11:50; RI Hall 108

Instructor: Margaret M. Andrews

Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World

214 Rhode Island Hall

Office Hours: Tuesdays, 12:00-2:00 pm, or by appointment

Teaching Assistant: Evan Levine

Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World


People build houses, but how do houses build people? This course will explore the concept of the house in the ancient Western world, from the Neolithic period to Late Antiquity, focusing mostly on ancient Greece and Rome. We will discuss aspects of space and how the spatial configurations of houses actively shape the way people act and think, both as individuals and as members of a collective society. We begin with an overview of fundamental theoretical concepts and methodological approaches, followed by an overview of the various types of houses in a selection of the principal cultures of the pre-industrial West. The final weeks of the semester will be thematic, addressing how a number of social issues are evident and differently expressed among the various cultures previously examined. Among the recurring questions of the course will be: What do the layout and features of houses reveal about their occupants? How did the house feature in the ancient concepts of “public” and “private”? How does the broader setting of houses affect their perception? How are houses used to reinforce or to subvert broader social structures?


By the end of the semester, students will have an understanding of not only the primary forms of housing found in many pre-industrial Western cultures, but also the agency of houses in the social lives and structures of these cultures. Students will be able to make critical comparisons between different cultural systems through time and space, including the present. They will develop critical and analytical thinking skills by evaluating the benefits and hazards of using different types of evidence to draw conclusions. In the classroom, students will gain practice leading an intellectual discussion with their piers and to develop informed opinions about a certain topic and the various scholarly perspectives on it. Students will also gain experience in various methods of spatial analysis.


This course is an upper-level undergraduate seminar that will meet for two sessions a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The Tuesday session will consist primarily of a presentation of the week’s topic and the major issues/debates/questions surrounding its relevance to ancient urban centers. This presentation will be mostly led by the instructor, but it will incorporate student discussion and questions based on the readings assigned for that day. In the Thursday session, students who have signed up for the week’s topic will lead a discussion for approximately half of the class session based on the assigned readings and their assessment of them.  


In addition to regular attendance, preparation, and active participation in the classroom discussions, each student will have six primary responsibilities as summarized below. More detailed instructions for each assignment will be distributed during the course of the semester.

1) In-Class Case-Study Discussion/Presentation (ca. 45 min.). Each student will sign up for a week to lead a discussion on a specific week’s topic that is based on the assigned readings and some supplementary research. Each week’s students will be required to post discussion questions about the readings 24 hours before their discussion session. In class, the student(s) will deliver a general summary of the readings and their arguments, as well as their importance and relevance to the topics of the course and specific week. They will then be responsible for leading a balanced and informed discussion about the readings with their fellow students.

2) Short Essays. There will be two short essays assigned during the course of the semester. The first will be a personal reflection (ca. 750 words) on how you believe the physical space/appearance/location of your childhood house or housing has affected your individual perspective on contemporary society. The second essay will result directly from your in-class discussion session and will consist of a critical assessment (ca. 1250 words) of the readings you addressed in class. This paper will be due one week after the date of your in-class discussion session.

 3) Research Paper (ca. 2500). Each student will write a research paper on a topic of their choosing, developed in consultation with the instructor. Students will be assessed not only on the content and composition of the final product, but also on their preparation and progress through various requirements scheduled during the second half of the semester.

Course Materials

All assigned reading for the course will be provided in digital form and will be available for downloading from the Canvas course website. These readings are accessible under the DISCUSSIONS section of the webpage and will be grouped according to each week.


  •  Regular attendance in class, except where illness or other unavoidable conflicts intervene. Excused absences must be validated by appropriate documentation.
  •  Completing assigned readings by the dates indicated in this syllabus and coming to class prepared to talk about them.
  •  Submission of all written materials by their due dates.
  •  Cooperation in contributing to in-class discussions
  • Willingness to consult the instructor or the class TA in office hours about the course, or problems you may be experiencing with lectures, readings, or other assignments.
  •  In taking this class, as all others at Brown, it is presumed that you have read, are familiar with, and will abide by Brown’s Academic Code, particularly as they relate to fair use of sources and avoidance of plagiarism. You should review these policies here:


Students will spend approximately 180 hours on this course. Over 14 weeks, students will spend 3 hours per week in class (42 hours total). Required reading and preparation for the class is expected to take up approximately 6 hours per week (80 hours). Short essay preparation should total 10 hours. In addition, I expect preparing for the discussion sections to occupy about 10 hours of time. The process of research and writing your final research paper should range from approximately 36-40 hours.



Attendance and Participation in Discussions: 15%

Discussion Session: 20%

Short Papers: 15% + 20% = 30%

Final Paper: 35%


Week 1 — Introduction

Thurs, 1/25 - Introduction to the Course


Week 2 — Concepts and Theories  

Tues, 1/30 -  Meaning and Agency of Houses in Human Society

  •  P. Bourdieu, “The Berber House or the World Reversed,” Social Science Information 9 (1970),
  •  A. Rapoport, House Form and Culture (1969), 46-82

Thurs, 1/1 - Guest Lecture: Evan Levine, JIAAW PhD Candidate

  •  M. Shanks, “Three Rooms: Archaeology and Performance” Journal of Social Archaeology 4

 (2004): 147-180

  •  V. Buchli and G. Lucas, “The Archaeology of Alienation: A Late Twentieth-Century Council Flat,” in Archaeologies of the Contemporary Past (2001), 158-167


Week 3 — Methods       

Tues, 2/6 – How Do We Look at Houses?

  •  S. Souvatzi, A Social Archaeology of Households in Neolithic Greece: An Anthropological Approach (2008), 21-46
  •  S. Steadman, Archaeology of Domestic Architecture and the Human Use of Space (2012), 39-68
  •  V. LaMotta and M Schiffer, “Formation Processes of House Floor Assemblages,” in The Archaeology of Household Activities (1999), 19-29

Thurs, 2/8 - Guest Lecture: Eva Mohl, JIAAW Postdoctoral Fellow

  •  S. Bafna, “Space Syntax: A Brief Introduction to Its Logic and Analytical Techniques,” Environment and Behavior 35 (2003), 17-29
  • T. Bellal, "Understanding Home Cultures through Syntactic Analysis: The Case of Berber Housing," Housing, Theory, and Society 21(2010): 111-27


Week 4 — Prehistoric Housing

Tues, 2/13 - Guest Lecture: Sophie Moore, JIAAW Postdoctoral Fellow

  •  I. Hodder, “Architecture and Meaning: The Example of Neolithic Houses and Tombs,” in Architecture and Meaning: Approaches to Social Space (1994), 62-78
  • S. Souvazki,”Between the Individual and the Collective: Household as a Social Process in Neolithic Greece,” in New Perspectives on Household Archaeology (2012), 14-44

Thurs, 2/15 – Form and Meaning

  • E. Banning, “Housing Neolithic Farmers,” Near Eastern Archaeology 66 (2003), 4-21


Week 5 — Greek Houses



Thurs, 2/22 – Social Issues

  •  M. Trümper, “Modest Housing in Late Hellenistic Delos,” in Ancient Greek Houses and Households: Chronological, Regional, and Social (2005), 119-39
  •  L. Nevett, Houses and Society in the Ancient Greek World (1999), 4-52
  • M. Goldberg, “Spatial and Behavioral Negotiation in Classical Athenian City Houses,” in The Archaeology of Household Activities, 142-161


Week 6 — Roman Houses         

Tues, 2/27 – Forms and Meaning

  •  C. Knights, “The Spatiality of the Roman Domestic Setting: An Interpretation of Symbolic Content” in Architecture and Meaning: Approaches to Social Space (1994), 62-78
  •  A. Wallace-Hadrill, “Domus and Insulae in Rome: Families and Households,” in Early Christian Families in Context: Interdisciplinary Approaches (2003), 3-18

Thurs, 3/1 - Social Issues

  •  A. Wallace-Hadrill, Houses and Society in Pompeii and Herculaneum (1994), 3-16, 38-61


Week 7 — Late Antique Houses

Tues, 3/6 - Shifting Forms and Contexts

  • S. Ellis, “The End of the Roman House,” American Journal of Archaeology 92 (1988): 565-576
  •  K. Bowes, Houses and Society in the Late Roman Empire (2008), 19-60

Thurs, 3/8 – “Christianization”

  •  K. Bowes, “Christianization and the Rural Home,” Journal of Early Christian Studies 15 (2007), 143-170


Week 8 — Houses and Class Structures

Tues, 3/13 - Class and Status Differentiation within Houses

  •  T. Kohler et al., “Greater post-Neolithic wealth disparities in Eurasia than in North America and Mesoamerica,” Nature 551 (2017): 619-622

Thurs, 3/15 - Roman Houses

  •  S. Joshel and L. Petersen, The Material Life of Roman Slaves, 24-86
  • Petronius, The Satyricon, "Trimalchio's Dinner Party"


Week 9 — Houses and Economic Structures

Tues, 3/20 – Economic Integration

  • B. Ault, “Oikos and Oikonomia: Greek Houses, Households, and the Domestic Economy,” Building Communities: House, Settlement, and Society in the Aegean and Beyond (2007), 259-65
  • B. Tsakirgis, “Living and Working around the Athenian Agora: A Preliminary Case Study of Three Houses,” in Ancient Greek Houses and Households: Chronological, Regional, and Social Diversity (2005), 67-82

Thurs, 3/22 - Domestic Production - [Anna Soifer]

  • K. Harrington, “Privacy and Production: Sensory Aspects of Domestic Production and Household Industry in Classical and Hellenistic Greece.” Archaeological Review from Cambridge 30 (2015): 63-69
  • M. Flohr, "Spatial Contexts of Urban Production at Pompeii" (2007), 129-48 




Week 11 — Household Religion              

Tues, 4/3 - General Approaches

  • S. Stowers, “Theorizing the Religion of Ancient Households and Families,” in Household and Family Religion in Antiquity (2012), 5-19  
  •  K. Bowes, “At Home,” in A Companion to the Archaeology of Religion in the Ancient World (2015), 207-219 
  • J. Clarke, The Houses of Roman Italy, 100 BC – 250 CE: Ritual, Space, and Decoration (1991), 1-29

Thurs, 4/5 - NO CLASS


Week 12 — Gender and Sexuality

Tues, 4/10 –  Gender

  • P. Allison, “Labels for Ladies: Interpreting the Material Culture of Roman Households,” in The Archaeology of Household Activities (1999), 57-77
  •  L. Nevett/Cahill/Ault Greek debate

Thurs, 4/12 – Sexuality  

  • J. Clarke, Looking at Lovemaking: Constructions of Sexuality in Roman Art, 100 BC - AD 250 (2010), 145-94


Week 13 — Houses and Neighborhoods

Tues, 4/17 - Neighborhood Identity

  • R. Laurence, Roman Pompeii: Space and Society (2007), 39-61
  • M. Smith, “The Archaeological Study of Neighborhoods and Districts in Ancient Cities,” Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 29 (2010): 137-54
  • K. Keith, “The Spatial Patterning of Everyday Life in Old Babylonian Neighborhoods,” in The Social Construction of Ancient Cities (2010), 56-80

Thurs, 4/19 - Gentrification

  • M. Andrews, “A Domus in the Subura of Rome from the Republic through Late Antiquity,” American Journal of Archaeology 124 (2014), 61-90


Week 14 — Houses in Regional Landscapes

Tues, 4/24 - Greek Farmsteads [EVAN]

  • L. Foxhall, “Small, rural farmstead sites in ancient Greece: a material cultural analysis,” in Chora und Polis: Methoden und Ergebnisse der historische Landeskunde (2004), 249-270
  • McHugh, The Ancient Greek Farmstead, TBD

Thurs, 4/26 - Roman Villas

  • TBD (slave economy/quarters, rustica vs. urbana, rural religion)



**FINAL PAPER DUE: Tuesday, May 8, by 11:59 pm (via Canvas)**


Course Summary:

Date Details Due