Pits were sometimes dug to start a housing project, as it was less effort to build down rather than up. A semi-subterranean settlement of 50 circular 1-room huts at Mallaha, in the northeast tip of Israel, started 12 TYA using this technique. Mallaha residents subsisted on fish from nearby Lake Hula, along with gathering and hunting. No evidence of agriculture or animal domestication has been found.
The rise of home construction followed development of labor-saving tools that rendered the task economically efficacious. Axes able to cut wood spurred settlement development. Sleeping indoors became increasingly popular. Fresh water, fertile fields, nearby fishing, and ample game decided settlement locations. By 7.5 TYA, all the cultivable zones in the Fertile Crescent were inhabited by sedentary agriculturalists living in villages.
Prior to the advent of agriculture, early villages died out when they exhausted local resources. The resettlement cycle repeated until crop cultivation and trade rendered location at least as important as natural resources.