Four Room House of Tel Beersheba

By the Editors of the Madain Project

A four-room house, also known as an "Israelite house" or a "pillared house" is the name given to the mud and stone houses characteristic of the Iron Age of Levant.


The four-room house is so named because its floor plan is divided into four sections, although not all four are proper rooms, one often being an unroofed courtyard. It is also sometimes called a pillared house because two or all three of the parallel ground-level "rooms" are separated by one or two, respectively rows of wooden pillars. The pillars, however, are not the defining feature of the four-room house.

Architectural Design

circa 1000 BCE

The design (reconstruction of a Semitic House) 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. The four-room house, also referred to as “Israelite house” and “pillared courtyard house,” emerged in the central highlands of Canaan during the late 13th -early 12th centuries BCE in response to environmental and socio-economic needs.

The Four Room Houses at Beersheba

circa 1000 BCE

About twenty such houses were excavated in Beer-sheba. A typical house design in the Israelite period (Iron Age I & II, circa 1200-586 BCE) was based on the "four-room house", which was three parallel spaces with a perpendicular space to them. The abundant new data collected from the recent discoveries further demostrate that this type of house is found in all the settlements throughout the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. 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.

circa 1000 BCE

The "four-room house" design was a compact house with thick external walls and a single entrance, designed for protection. It supported a roof, or even a second level where additional residential rooms were located. This was a dwelling place for the family, kitchen, storerooms and also a place for the cattle (ox and mules). The standard type was a rectangular design covering a total area of 150-200 square meters.


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