Medieval European houses
In the Middle Ages, many people in northern Europe (northern France, Germany, and England) built their houses in this half-timbered way. This was because wood for building was expensive. Most people couldn’t afford to build their whole house out of wood.
What is plaster?
Northern European houses
History of houses
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What is half-timbering?
Instead, people built just a frame of wood. Then they filled in the frame with lath and plaster. Lath is made of smaller sticks, too small to hold any weight. Over the lath you smear on plaster made from lime. (You get lime by burning limestone or marble. Medieval people burned a lot of Greek and Roman statues to make lime for plaster.)
Getting more into it
At first people just did half-timbering to save money on wood. But soon they realized that you could make attractive patterns with the dark wood and the white plaster. Half-timbering never caught on in the Mediterranean or West Asia, because there wasn’t enough wood in those places to build with. Northern Europe had big forests and plenty of wood.