Originated during the neolithic period. A tholos (pl. tholoi), is from ancient Greek θόλος. Meaning “conical roof”, or dome. Or, in Latin tholus (pl. tholi). They were primarily found in the middle east and mediterranean region. These round buildings are notable for their unique architectural style and construction methods.
Tholoi are typically circular or slightly oval in shape
With domed or beehive-shaped roofs. Often constructed using corbeling techniques. Stones are stacked in a slightly overlapping manner to create a stable, self-supporting structure.
They used stone
Including large limestone, granite slabs or boulders. They were often dry-stacked. Even without mortar. Stones had to be carefully placed. To create a stable and secure structure.
Typically they had a single entrance or a narrow passage leading into the interior
Its entrance could be a simple doorway or a small corridor.
Exact function of neolithic tholoi is a subject of debate among archaeologists
It may have been a dwelling, room for storage. An oven or hearth. Even burial, religious or ritual structure.
Neolithic tholoi date back to different regions and periods.
They can be found around the Mediterranean. Including Greece, Cyprus, Malta. As well Mesopotamia, and parts of the Middle East. They are often associated with the early agricultural societies. Perhaps as protection from things like weather and pest. And, as mentioned, for storage; hearths; burial or ritual.
They are culturally significant because they are early examples of advanced stone techniques
Providing insights into the social and cultural developments of neolithic society.
Neolithic tholoi developed in the bronze age to include:
The treasury of Atreus and the tomb of Clytemnestra in Mycenae (Greece); and,
The Ħaġar Qim, and Mnajdra temples in Malta.
Though possible further developments. The tholos should not be confused with the beehive tomb. Tholos tombs were later on. They included variations like Mausolea and rotundas. In later bronze age Greece, and others.
While the exact purpose of Neolithic tholoi can vary. Their construction techniques and architectural features are significant. They indicative the advancement of building technology during the neolithic period. They offer valuable archaeological and historical insights into the development of early human societies. As well, their neolithic architectural achievements.
Summerson, John, The Classical Language of Architecture, 1980 edition, Thames and Hudson World of Art series, ISBN 0500201773
Lawrence, A. W., Greek Architecture, 1957, Penguin, Pelican history of art