Humans like you and me (from the species Homo sapiens) are thought to come from a group of people that lived in Africa between 150,000 and 200,000 years ago. Fossils have helped scientists to work out when Homo sapiens first evolved from other human-like species and how they travelled across the world. But where did the first modern humans live and who had the first idea to build a house?
Homo sapiens evolved a long, long time ago and they didn’t leave much stuff behind to tell us about how they lived. But all living creatures need safe places to sleep, eat and raise their babies away from bad weather and things that might eat them, so the first humans must have come up with ways to take shelter.
We think that the very first Homo sapiens would have found shelter in the natural environment around them – perhaps in trees or caves. And it is likely that the first man-made shelters were made out of stones and tree branches that could be bent, stacked and balanced in place.
Over time, humans learned how to make simple structures out of sticks and animal skins. These dwellings would have been a bit like tents and may even have been moved about or carried from place to place. Eventually, people found ways to make new building materials and tools and found ways to make better, stronger and longer-lasting living places.
One of the first towns that we have discovered was built about 8,500 years ago. It was a place called Catal Huyuk, which is in the country we now call Turkey. The houses in the town were made of mud brick and had three rooms each but they didn’t have doors and windows like our houses do today. The people who lived in Catal Huyuk farmed grains and vegetables as well as sheep and goats. They also made tools and pottery.
So, whilst we don’t know for sure who had the first idea to build a house, objects and structures left behind by ancient civilisations, like Catal Huyuk, have given us some clues. This type of science is called ‘archaeology‘ and it helps us to understand things that were created and used be people throughout history.
If you’re interested to find out more about how people started to make their own shelters, here is a timeline of dwellings from caves 20,000 years ago to the modern buildings that we use today.