Lecture 5. The Holocene and the Pit House Tradition

created by:

Mark Jarzombek

from the module:

The American Continuum

It is often argued that the Holocene set the stage for agriculture. This lecture starts from this premise, and demonstrates that the Holocene also set the stage for an expansion of First Society cultures. By 3,000 BCE, around the time we see the first cities in Mesopotamia, we see extensive First Society cultures developing in areas of particularly rich and diverse flora and fauna.   The most notable of these was the emergence of fish-based and ocean-shore societies that spread rapidly by 3,000 BCE especially in the Alaskan-Canadian Pacific Region. That culture has its origins with the Jomon in Japan. The first part of the lecture, therefore, covers the civilizational arc around the northern Pacific from Japan to the Haida. The common threads are salmon fishing and the pit house. The pit house tradition was one of the most extensive and long-lasting architectural traditions in all of history. I discuss the Haida to emphasize the affluence of this culture and to review their extensive architectural world-view.   The most important architectural form associated with the Pacific Rim cultures is the Pit House. The lecture introduces the pit house, its design and use. The lecture ends with the hogon, the Navajo Pit House, about which we know quite a bit. We can extrapolate back even to the Jomon to see how this house form was designed as a sacred diagram.

supporting documents:


Quiz with Answers

Lecture Notes