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Traditional communal dwelling of the Iroquois Indians until the 19th century. The longhouse was a rectangular box built out of poles, with doors at each end and saplings stretched over the top to form the roof, the whole structure being covered with bark. It was about 20 ft (6 m) wide and could be more than 200 ft (60 m) in length, depending on the number of families living in it. Down the middle of the house were fires, which were shared by families on either side. The term is also applied today to an Iroquois building designated as church and meeting hall, though its form is entirely different. See alsopole construction.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on longhouse, visit Britannica.com.