House of the Tiles

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Remains of stairway.

The House of the Tiles is a monumental Early Bronze Age building (two stories, approximately 12 x 25 m) located at the archaeological site of Lerna in southern Greece.[1] It is notable for several architectural features that were advanced for its time, notably its roof covered by baked tiles, which gave the building its name.[1][2] The building belongs to the "corridor house" type.[3][4]



The site was excavated by the American School of Classical Studies under the direction of John Langdon Caskey of the University of Cincinnati.[5]


The structure dates to the Early Helladic II period (2500–2300 BC) and is sometimes interpreted as the dwelling of an elite member of the community, a proto-palace, or an administrative center. Alternatively, it has also been considered to be a communal structure, i.e., the common property of the townspeople.[6] The exact function remains unknown due to a lack of small finds indicating the specific uses of the building.[6] The house had a stairway leading to a second story and was protected by a tiled roof;[7] it also contained storage areas.[8] Debris found at the site contained thousands of terracotta tiles having fallen from the roof.[9] Although such roofs were also found in the Early Helladic site of Akovitika[10] and later in the Mycenaean towns of Gla and Midea,[11] they only became common in Greek architecture in the 7th century BC.[12] The walls of the "House of the Tiles" were constructed with sun-dried bricks on stone socles.[2]


Carbon-14 dating indicates that the House of the Tiles was finally destroyed by fire in the 22nd century BC.[9] Not long after the destruction, the place was cleared in such a way as to leave a low tumulus over the site.[9] The destruction of both the building and the building site was first attributed by John Langdon Caskey to an invasion of Greeks and/or Indo-Europeans during the Early Helladic III period.[13] In reality, the elaborate structure of the tumulus built by the Early Helladic III people over the ruins of the House of the Tiles indicates a "showing of respect for their predecessors that one would not expect of invaders of a different culture."[14]



  1. ^ a b Cline 2012, p. 202: "The House of the Tiles was named for the enormous quantity of fired clay roof tiles associated with the building. It was built of mud brick over a substantial stone foundation course (ca. 12 x 25 m), with traces of wood-sheathed doorjambs and stucco-plastered walls in some rooms. It was two stories high, as indicated by traces of stairways, and may have had several verandas upstairs, partially covered by a pitched roof, as suggested by Shaw (1990). The House of the Tiles was preceded by an earlier structure of similar type, House BG. Those buildings sometimes also incorporated elaborate clay hearths that are decorated with stamped-seal impressions."
  2. ^ a b Overbeck 1969, p. 5.
  3. ^ Shaw 1987, pp. 59–79.
  4. ^ Pullen 2008, pp. 36, 43 (Endnote #22): "A corridor house is a large, two-story building consisting of two or more large rooms flanked by narrow corridors on the sides. Some of those corridors held staircases; others were used for storage."
  5. ^ "John Langdon Caskey, Professor of Archeology". New York Times. Associated Press. 8 December 1981. 
  6. ^ a b Overbeck 1969, p. 6.
  7. ^ Overbeck 1969, p. 5; Shaw 1987, p. 59.
  8. ^ Neer 2012, pp. 44–45.
  9. ^ a b c Caskey 1968, p. 314.
  10. ^ Shaw 1987, p. 72.
  11. ^ Shear 2000, pp. 133–134.
  12. ^ Wikander 1990, p. 285.
  13. ^ Caskey 1960, pp. 285–303.
  14. ^ Coleman 2000, p. 106: "The people of EH III constructed an elaborate tumulus over the ruins of the EH II "House of the Tiles (Caskey 1960; 1965:144–145) showing respect for their predecessors that one would not expect of invaders of a different culture."


Coordinates: 37°33′04″N 22°43′06″E / 37.5512°N 22.7183°E / 37.5512; 22.7183