Ancient pit house discovery in Brazil shows how little homeowners have changed in 700 years

The most fascinating part of the ancient pit house discovery in Brazil is what they did with their houses.

Pit houses have been built by non-industrial cultures all over the earth. The “pit” part means that construction began by digging a pit in the earth. Low walls or simply a roof was added on. The most ancient pit houses found were made of mammoth bones 15,000 years ago!


Actually, pit houses were quite desirable residences – warm in winter and cool in summer. Brazilians in Campo Belo do Sul thought so 700 years ago.

They constantly extended their pit houses.


They beautified their homes with plants.


They experimented with construction techniques and materials to take advantage of modern methods.

These homeowners 700 years ago behaved in ways we can recognise today. This came as a complete surprise to archaeologists.

Pit houses were supposed to be temporary. They thought that a pit house was abandoned after at most 10 years. But this finding was based on incomplete radiocarbon dating.

In fact, ancient DIY allowed some families to live in their homes continuously for more than 200 years.

One house had over 12 floors, built on gradually over time.

Pit houses were also the club houses of Ancient times.

People told stories, danced, sung and carried out ceremonies in pit houses. They were the spiritual and social centre of their communities.

People still build modern pit houses

As more people want homes with a connection to the earth, pit houses are back in style. Check out this underground house of glass in Austin, Texas. See how the roof of this underground home looks like a couple of sloped grass banks? They’re using the old trick of allowing the earth to provide cooling and heat.


Or this one in Japan that appears to be floating. It was built by excavating six spaces of earth.


Or this solar-powered pit house, built specifically for colder climates.

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I think the Ancient Brazilians would approve.

Siobhan O’Shea is a freelance writer. She writes about pretty much everything but especially likes to bring readers’ attention to new tech, marketing, human behavior, and other oddities.