Courtyard Houses and Other Complex Buildings in the Protohistory of Southern Gaul

from Architectural to Social Changes


  • Maria Carme Belarte Franco Institut Català d’Arqueologia Clàssica



Iron Age, southern Gaul, domestic architecture, building techniques, courtyard houses, household organisation, acculturation


Courtyard houses are attested at several sites in southern Gaul between the 5th and the 1st centuries BC. They represent a new concept when compared to the traditional protohistoric houses of the region and have often been interpreted in terms of Mediterranean, Greek or Italic influences. Regardless of their origin, exogenous influences or evolution, these houses suggest the emergence of social differentiation and elites in several of the main settlements. This article analyses the significance of the various courtyard house categories in the context of local, indigenous societies, while trying to understand the social implications of this new type of residence. In a wider context, the development of domestic architecture during the Iron Age is analysed alongside the relationships between changing uses of space and social changes.

Author Biography

Maria Carme Belarte Franco, Institut Català d’Arqueologia Clàssica

Maria Carme Belarte Franco is based at the Classical Institute of Catalan Archaeology (ICAC) in Tarragona, Spain as a member of the Catalan Organisation of Research and Advanced Studies (ICREA). Her research interests include domestic architecture, social use of space and hierarchy in protohistoric Catalonia and southern France, the analysis of mortuary practices and use of funerary space in protohistoric southern Catalonia, and the social evolution of protohistoric societies in North Africa. She has co-directed the excavation of the protohistoric burial site of Santa Madrona (Riba-roja, Tarragona, Spain, 2004-2005), and since 2005 has co-directed fieldwork at the protohistoric settlement and burial site of Sebes (Flix, Tarragona). She has been a staff member of the archaeological excavations at Lattara (Lattes, Hérault, France) since 1998, and at the Numidian and Roman site of Althiburos (El Kef, Tunisia) since 2006. Recent publications include: ‘Domestic architecture and social differences in northeastern Iberia during the Iron Age (c. 525 – 200 BC)’ (Oxford Journal of Archaeology 27 [2008] 175-99), and ‘Habitat et pratiques domestiques des Ve-IVe s. av. n. è.’ (Gallia 65 [2008] 91-106). She recently edited the volume L’espai domèstic i l’organització de la societat a la protohistòria de la Mediterrània occidental (Ier mil•lenni). Actes de la IV Reunió Internacional d'Arqueologia de Calafell (Calafell - Tarragona, 6 al 9 de març de 2007). Arqueomediterrània 11. Barcelona: Universitat de Barcelona, 2009.



How to Cite

Belarte Franco, M. C. (2010). Courtyard Houses and Other Complex Buildings in the Protohistory of Southern Gaul: from Architectural to Social Changes. Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology, 22(2), 235–259.