Svans - Settlements

The traditional Svan settlement, especially well preserved in the upper Svaneti, is the qew or commune, comprising a group of hamlets, each inhabited by one or more clans. Within the hamlet are a few dozen homesteads, closely packed together, surrounded by farmland. In recent times the organizational structure of the Svan commune (see "Political Organization") has given way to that of the modern Georgian village. There are several types of Svan homesteads. In the type believed to be most ancient, the family and livestock live under one roof in a fortresslike three-story stone structure. More often, there is a separate, adjoining defense tower ( murq'wam ) to which the family and cattle repair in time of attack. (Defense towers are now found primarily in eastern upper Svaneti, with a few remnants in lower Svaneti and northern Rach'a.) In many respects the traditional Svan homestead is more similar to those of other Caucasian mountain provinces (northeastern Georgia, Ossetia, Ingushia, Daghestan) than to those of lowland Georgia.

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