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warehouse is a building for storing goods.[1][2] Warehouses are used by manufacturersimportersexporterswholesalerstransport businesses, customs, etc. They are usually large plain buildings in industrial parks on the outskirts of cities, towns or villages.

A warehouse can be defined functionally as a building in which to store bulk produce or goods (wares) for commercial purposes. The built form of warehouse structures throughout time depends on many contexts: materials, technologies, sites, and cultures.

In this sense, the warehouse postdates the need for communal or state-based mass storage of surplus food. Prehistoric civilizations relied on family- or community-owned storage pits, or ‘palace’ storerooms, such as at Knossos, to protect surplus food. The archaeologist Colin Renfrew argued that gathering and storing agricultural surpluses in Bronze Age Minoan ‘palaces’ was a critical ingredient in the formation of proto-state power

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The need for warehouses developed in societies in which trade reached a critical mass requiring storage at some point in the exchange process. This was highly evident in ancient Rome, where the horreum (pl. horrea) became a standard building form.[5]  The most studied examples are in Ostia, the port city that served Rome. The Horrea Galbae, a warehouse complex on the road towards Ostia, demonstrates that these buildings could be substantial, even by modern standards. Galba’s horrea complex contained 140 rooms on the ground floor alone, covering an area of some 225,000 square feet (21,000 m²). As a point of reference, less than half of U.S. warehouses today are larger than 100,000 square feet (9290 m²).[6]

The need for a warehouse implies having quantities of goods too big to be stored in a domestic storeroom. But as attested by legislation concerning the levy of duties, some medieval merchants across Europe commonly kept goods in their large household storerooms, often on the ground floor or cellars.[7][8] An example is the Fondaco dei Tedeschi, the substantial quarters of German traders in Venice, which combined a dwelling, warehouse, market and quarters for travellers.[9]