IN our study of the House it will be interesting to review briefly what is known about the earliest human habitations and the way in which the modern house has developed.

It may be well to consider what is meant by the term "the evolution of the house." One hears much in these days about evolution in plans, plants, animals. For present purposes the following definition seems best suited: "Evolution is a process in which, by a series of continuous progressive changes, a complex arrangement, agency, or organism is developed from rude or simple beginnings as the evolution of civilization from savagery; the evolution of a chicken from an egg." The evolution of the house, then, means that progressive series of changes by which the modern house has developed or evolved from an earlier and simpler form.

Simpler Forms

What were some of these simpler forms? The modern house has a very definite meaning to most of us, but how little we know of its beginnings. Let us go back into, that dim and shadowy past and find what it can tell us about the earlier human habitations.

It is so difficult to trace beginnings even of most important events and inventions. The origin of language, the origin of the family, the earliest home of the human race, are alike unknown; so we shall not hope to find the first human dwelling, but to find types of early human habitations, and in a study of these types to be enabled to see the evolution of the modern house.


However much the modern house may differ from the earliest dwelling place, since both were destined to serve the needs of human beings, we may assume that the earlier, as the later form, has been intended to meet some primal human need. Man today needs shelter from the summer's heat and the winter's cold, protection from the wind and the storm, defense from wild beasts; so it seems most probable that his brother man in the earlier ages of the world had these same human needs. Those who have studied most about early human habitations seem quite agreed that man found his first shelter under the spreading branches of a tree. In a warm climate and in the absence of wild beasts a tree might meet his requirement for shelter from the sun's rays. Viollet Le Duc in his "Habitations of Man in all Ages," gives us a picture of this first human dwelling. Moreover we know that trees are now occupied by tribes in Central Africa and South America.


Tree Dwellings Of The Tribes Of Central Africa.

From " L'Habitation Humane".


The overlapping and intertwining of the branches are supposed to have suggested the thatched roof for which shingles were later substituted. Viollet Le Due shows how the primitive hut may have been suggested by this putting together of the branches of the tree and intertwining of them. But trees are not found everywhere and cannot be moved from place to place.