Given the fact that Dinka-speaking peoples live in communities that cover considerably different ecological niches, generalizations about the "typical" Dinka settlement are difficult to make. Prior to British colonial rule, there were no "villages" per se. Instead, homesteads were clustered in nomadic territories in a pattern that allowed year-round access to drinking water and to grasslands for feeding their cattle herds. Some settlement clusters consisted of only two or three homesteads, whereas others were comprised of more than a hundred distinctive family settlements. Traditional homesteads were made of mud walls, with thatched roofs, and they lasted some twenty years. In a circular pattern around her hut, a woman cultivated her cooking gardens. Around the turn of the twentieth century, the British admiralty administration sought to cement its presence in southern Sudan by establishing a number of administrative centers. Since then, these small towns have grown considerably, establishing a mode of residence that was previously unknown to the Dinka.