Four Room House

By the Editors of the Madain Project

A four-room house is the name given to the mud and stone houses characteristic of the Iron Age of Levant. Also referred to as “Israelite house” and “pillared courtyard house,” this construction style emerged in the central highlands of Canaan during the late 13th -early 12th centuries BCE in response to environmental and socio-economic needs.

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The design was based on a long house with four main spaces - a broad room in the back and three long spaces extending forward from it. The rooms were divided by stone pillars and walls. The central room was a courtyard, which was normally open to let in light since there were no windows in the house.

Found throughout Israel from the time of the settlement of the Israelites, the number of rooms in the dwelling may vary, but always it is characterized by a row or two of pillars separating the central court from the side room.

The pillars divided the house into three long spaces, with a fourth along the back wall. These 'rooms' could be divided by internal walls or partial partitions or could be left open to one another. In some cases one 'room' may have been left open to the sky as a small courtyard. This example seems to include a raised stone hearth.

Notable Excavations

circa 1000 BCE

The four-room house at the Tel Beersheva is one of the most common residential dwelling and some twenty such houses were excavated. Like other places, the four-room house at Beersheba was incorporated in to the casemate wall of adjoining some other line of fortification as a single organic unit. The standard type was a rectangular design covering a total area of 150-200 square meters.

circa 1000 BCE

Land of Goshen
Identified with Avaris (modern day archaeological site of Tel el-Daba), remains of 4-Room Houses were also excavated. The city of Avaris was the capital of the Hyksos domain in the north of Egypt; it was excavated by Egyptologist Manfred Bietak. Remains of a number of 4-room dwellings were also discovered during the archaeological excavations.

circa 1000 BCE

Dubbed as the House of Ahiel, this four-room house was excavated in the 'Area G' of City of David, Jerusalem. This four-room house was built into and over the Millo around 550 BCE in the days of young Josiah and Jeremiah. There are side rooms, separated by monolithic pillars and piers, and adjoining service rooms to the north. It is one of the best preserved of the Iron Age structures in Area G is Ahiel’s House.

circa 1000 BCE

Tel Hazor
The four-room house at Hazor, characteristic of the Israelite peiod, has a central cortyard and rooms on three sides. Domestinc activities, including food preparation, cooking, baking, and various other crafts (oilpress located in the courtyard) were conducted on the ground floor, while living quarters were located in the upper storey. The central chamber on the western side served as a pantry, and could be accessed only from the second storey by means of a ladder.

Modern Reconstructions


The Houses of Ancient Israel Exhibit
The exhibit offers a view of life in an ancient Near Eastern agricultural society. The exhibit contains a full scale replica of an ancient Israelite home. The exhibit is arranged in terms of the buildings - the houses - associated with the different levels of that society: family dwelling, palace and temple. This exhibit traces the development and importance of the house in ancient Israel, from the family dwelling to the house of the king, and the house of the Lord (the temple).



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External Resources


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