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From circle to rectangle: Evolution of the architectural plan in the early Neolithic in the Middle East

Marcin Białowarczuk


Transformation of the plan seems to be one of the most fundamental elements characterizing the evolution of architecture during the PPNA stage. It starts with simple round monocellular structures and ends with the invention of modular subrectangular ones, divided into many rooms. However, the evolution of some types of buildings in different regions of the Fertile Crescent was varied in pace. A major question are the main factors causing such regional differences. This paper presents a basic typology of early Neolithic structures and their regional diversification, which could result from individual dynamics of the development of original types stimulated by regionally invented practical and technical solutions. Two variants of the process were distinguished. The first is the evolution from a primitive shelter to open, free-standing durable forms of round houses. The other variant was the development from shelters to large round subterranean houses. Different regions of the Middle East adopted one of these two variants. Each featured specific traits and determined further regional development of plan.


architecture, evolution of plan, PPNA, Fertile Crescent


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