Few places in a home are as important or symbolic for our social bonds than the kitchen. In almost every culture, the kitchen serves not only as the place where food is prepared, but serves as a social hub for families and friends. Humans develop deep social bonds with family and friends in their kitchen. The kitchen does not simply provide for our daily nutrition but also helps to reinforce our social character. Whether humans are cooking around a fire or chopping vegetables on a granite countertop, they are also interacting with one another.
In early complex societies in the Near East, Egypt, and in the eastern Mediterranean, including Crete and Cyprus, many homes had open fire places or covered stoves with a fire burning inside (similar to modern clay ovens often used for bread baking). Stoves ranged from simple clay-made pieces to brick-made cooking places. The stoves for cooking were often in open places so that the smoke can escape. Most cooking, therefore, would be outside, although food preparation could take place nearby or in the same space. Some homes may not have had a specific place for cooking, such as smaller homes, where a shared communal space may have been used for making meals (Figure 1). Wealthy people generally had more elaborate rooms that had facilities for storage of foods, what were essentially pantries, that were often next to an open space for cooking. In very wealthy residences, or even palaces, food storage may have been more elaborate, where types of ice houses and large storage rooms would have been present. Some kitchens could also be enclosed, where a possible chimney could have carried the smoke for cooking fires.