During the archaeology of Neolithic Europe, researchers discovered an area of Europe where it appears there was a widespread phenomenon of intentionally burning settlements. This section of land is known as the burned house horizon. No one knows why this a tradition but it was widespread and was a long-lasting tradition around now Southeastern and Eastern Europe.
Historians believe this was a period from 6500 BCE (the start of the Neolithic period) until 2000 BCE which was the start of the Bronze Age. One of the major cultures present at this time was the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture which lived around the area and thrived during this period. There is still a major discussion amongst researchers if this fire was intentionally or not. However, all the evidence points towards it not being accidental and that the burning was a real practice.
Why would people build up massive settlements to regularly burn them down, in more recent times, people have come to believe in the domicile theory. This theory describes that every 70 to 80 years the entire settlements would be burned down as a ritual. They believe these people were deliberately marking the end of life of the house. It is possible that the culture of Cucuteni Trypillian people believed that inanimate objects such has houses had souls and spirits.
The theory goes on to show that these people most likely believed in reincarnation and therefore thought that by burning the house down and rebuilding that the soul of the house would be reborn into a new structure above it. A lot of evidence has been found to support this theory, such as that such a large scale burning would have needed to be a community effort that would require huge amounts of fuel and as a result would leave behind a lot of markers.
Such as the walls of clay that have become vitrified and turned a bright orange color due to the immense heat. And of course the mass amount of fired clay rubble found in every house of the settlements. Other theories revolve around accidental burning, enemy attacks or their demolition to create space – but as the sites never seem to have large amounts of burned skeletons these theories don’t make sense.