I’m reading David Christian’s Maps of Time, which I’ll probably comment on more extensively here soon.
One small point that caught my attention while reading, however. Christian claims at one point, without a specific attributed sourcing, that sedentary and early agricultural villages everywhere can be identified in part by the fact that the houses they build are square.
I’m just wondering what the evidence is for this claim. I can think of a lot of societies engaged in agriculture that have built round houses. The square house seems to me to be much more ideologically specific wherever I’ve run into it.
This sort of claim is a good example of why I’m a little leery of archaeological work that tries to simplify potentially cultural, intellectual or political issues into materialist claims, or that tries to universalize from a data set that is heavily skewed towards China, the Middle East and Western Europe.
Even as a materialist argument, I’m wondering what evidence there is that square houses last better or are otherwise preferable for permanent settlements.