Ancient Greek Homes

Homes in Ancient Greece were built around a central courtyard. This meant they were closed off from their surroundings, and they all looked similar from the outside. The furnishings on the inside depended on the wealth of the family.

Facts about Ancient Greek Homes

  • Greek homes were built with mud bricks
  • Rooms surrounded a central courtyard
  • Wealthier homes had mosaic floors
  • Men and women lived in separate areas of the home
  • Some homes had a separate cooking room and bathroom
  • Wealthier homes had frescoes on the walls
  • Country homes had a surrounding wall to protect the animals
  • A fire was kept burning all year round

Mud Bricks

Ancient Greek homes were built from stone, wood, and bricks of mud or clay. Pottery tiles were used to make the roof, and windows had shutters made of wood.

Not all homes were the same size. This meant town streets were rarely straight.

Did you know… Mud bricks were soft, so it was easy for thieves to break in.

The Central Courtyard

All homes were built around a central courtyard with no roof. This area was the heart of the home and all other rooms were accessed from it.

There was an open fire to cook on and most of the daily chores were done here. Most homes had an alter in the courtyard for making offerings to the gods.

Did you know… Women rarely left home, so they might weave fabric in the courtyard to get some fresh air.

Mosaic Floors

The floors in most homes were simply beaten earth. In wealthier homes, brightly coloured pebbles or pieces of glass were used to make mosaic floors.

Did you know… Geometric designs were popular, but animals and gods were also pictured in floor mosaics.

Living Areas

Men and women lived in separate areas of the home. The women usually had rooms at the back of the house in an area known as the gynaeceum.

The men entertained male guests in a room known as the andron.

Did you know… The women of the house (other than slaves) were never seen by visiting men.

Cooking Rooms and Bathrooms

In most homes, cooking was done over an open fire in the courtyard. In larger homes, a separate room with its own chimney was used for cooking.

Only wealthy homes had a room for bathing. Water had to be carried into the home from public fountains, so most people washed at public bath houses.

Did you know… Ancient Greeks used oil on their skin after bathing to keep it soft.

Frescoes

A fresco is a painting applied to damp plaster. Most homes had plain plaster walls, but wealthier homes had brightly coloured fresco paintings.

Most homes had only a few pieces of furniture such as couches, tables and chairs. Wealthy homes might have richly decorated furniture inlaid with gold and ivory.

Did you know… The colours for paints were made from crushed plants or insects.

Country Homes

Homes in the country often had a stone wall surrounding them. This gave the family added protection and prevented the domestic animals from escaping.

Did you know… Farm animals such as ducks and geese often wandered freely around the courtyard of a country home.

The Hearth Fire

Hestia was the goddess of the hearth and home. A fire was kept burning in her honour all year round. This fire was used for cooking, warmth, and for making charcoal.

Did you know… When Ancient Greeks moved to new lands, they took fire with them from their old home to light the fire in their new home.

Questions and Answers

What type of bricks were used to build Greek homes?

Mud or clay.

What was used to make the roof in a Greek home?

Clay tiles.

Which members of the household lived in the gynaeceum?

Women.

who was the goddess of the hearth and home?

Hestia.

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