Hidden wealth & community defense

Eleanor Konik

Eleanor Konik

Professionally, I teach pre-teens about ancient civilizations. In my downtime, I enjoy combining storytelling with my love of sharing obscure history and science.


One of my big priorities with building out my fantasy world, Verraine, is making sure that I don't lean so hard on Euroecentric norms that I fail to take into account neat ways people in different cultures and environment solved problems — like designing shelters.

Quick Facts

Communal House

Tulou are large defensive structures built like earthworks but designed for communal living (~800 people!). They're several stories high, built around a central courtyard, and generally have only one entrance. The windows are all located above the first floor. They're common in the fertile mountain valley portions of China, and were mostly built between the 13th & 20th centuries.

Contiguous House

Çatalhöyük in Turkey was a Neolithic settlement that predates urbanization, states, money, and private property. The rectangular mud-brick structures had hearths and sleeping platforms. Since they were located so closely together, people entered through holes in the roof instead of doors, and were painted with geometric designs in crimson and burnt orange using ochre and cinnabar.

Clean House

Harappan urban planning included the world's first known urban sanitation systems. Within the city, individual homes or groups of homes got their water from wells. Waste water was directed from bathing rooms to covered drains, which lined the major streets. Houses opened only to inner courtyards and smaller lanes.

Cook House

Maize processing methods impacted Mesoamerican home layout because maize cooking was mostly done by women. Since women mostly worked in the kitchen, maize cooking areas had to be within line of sight — so Mesoamericans mostly put maize cooking locations in the patio far enough away to avoid interfering with the other household activities but close enough to glance in on.

📗 ICYMI: If you found this interesting, you may also enjoy my previous newsletters about masonry architecture and unusual beds.

💚 If you learned something from this overview, consider forwarding it to a friend and encouraging them to sign up for more research deep dives into obscure history and science.

🏘️ What's the weirdest house you've ever seen? I'd love to hear about it, either via email or in a comment where other readers can see.


Sign in or become a Eleanor's Iceberg member to join the conversation.
Just enter your email below to get a log in link.

You've successfully subscribed to Eleanor's Iceberg
Great! Next, complete checkout to get full access to all premium content.
Error! Could not sign up. invalid link.
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.
Error! Could not sign in. Please try again.
Success! Your account is fully activated, you now have access to all content.
Error! Stripe checkout failed.
Success! Your billing info is updated.
Error! Billing info update failed.