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So I know that usually, ancient villages and cities are made mostly with wood, and rarely with stone, since stone is inherently more expensive. But, if there is very little lumber around but lots of large rocky areas to work with, would it make sense for a society to develop in such an area, where almost all structures are either carved into rock, set up in existing caves, or made with stone/clay bricks?

Lets assume that the area would work for mining and/or farmland of some kind of crop, but just no lumber.

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    $\begingroup$ "Ancient villages and cities [were] made mostly with wood, and rarely with stone": the affirmation is patently incorrect, and moreover it overlooks bricks, which were (and are) a third option; it really really depends on the locale. While it may be true for ancient China, it's obviously not true for the classical civilization. For example, the Romans very much preferred fired bricks, ancient Egyptians and Mesopotamians very much preferred sun-dried bricks, and it doesn't matter what the ancient Greeks preferred because they did not have that much wood to begin with. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Dec 14 '18 at 1:59
  • $\begingroup$ Reminder to down-voters: the OP cannot improve the question unless helpful feedback is provided. Please remember to Be Nice and help out our newer users! $\endgroup$ – Dubukay Dec 14 '18 at 3:45
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    $\begingroup$ Actually it's so feasible that a desert village making its building out of timber would be absolutely amazing. Stone building were common in the ancient world especially in deserts. Stone has great thermal mass. Buildings stay cool during the heat of the day & warm during the cold desert nights. $\endgroup$ – a4android Dec 14 '18 at 6:57
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexP -- Rushfire didn't overlook bricks. They specifically say or made with stone/clay bricks? As such, the query is unclear.... $\endgroup$ – elemtilas Dec 14 '18 at 7:49
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    $\begingroup$ Rushfire, please edit and clarify your query. You are asking several different questions here. Do know want to know about "carving into rock", "not carved into rock but living in caves", or "made with stone" or "made with clay bricks"? $\endgroup$ – elemtilas Dec 14 '18 at 7:50
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The city of Petra is a city in our world, in Jordan, that is carved out of a mountain. If we can do it here, I'm sure that, in a world with magic, even more examples could occur.

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    $\begingroup$ Nothing more need be said. $\endgroup$ – elemtilas Dec 14 '18 at 7:43
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Yes, these types of structures are common in many areas around the world. The area I'm most familiar with is the US southwest and northern Mexico, where many native american tribes made their homes out of adobe, a clay-like substance, and rock. Most of the times, these structures were put up in the middle of the plains, but in New Mexico, there are several settlements that were formed around rocky outcrops, incorporating the surrounding stone into their buildings and carving out space as necessary.

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That's exactly what happened in Egypt. Being in the middle of the desert with scarcity of wood available, they turned to using mud bricks and stone as resources for making structures.

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The relative cost of building material depends on the local availability.

In the Mediterranean region normally rocks and stones are more available than wood, therefore houses are built with them rather than wood, like you can see in the picture below, showing a traditional building from Salento, built with just bare stones.

enter image description here

To stay in the same region, the old city of Matera was entirely carved in a tuff hill during the middle age, and all around the South of Italy it was common to carve buildings in tuff rock where it was available, the so called "lame".

This was also a valid protection against pirate raids: one really had to stumble on the city to see it!

enter image description here

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It's definitely possible! If you're looking specifically at desert the ancient city of Petra was pretty much entirely carved into the stone, as mentioned in a previous comment. Hegra, in modern Saudi Arabia, had some monumental tombs in the surrounding rock and much of the city itself was made out of mud-brick (which worked well at the time but has degraded almost completely in the millennia since). If you're interested in cave cities, look at Cappadocia in Turkey.

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In the desert, if you want to build a stone city (which is the best possible option), you don't really want to cut stone blocks, pull them to sites and then build with them. A much better bet would be to play Dwarf Fortress.

Find a nice cliff made of soft material like limestone, and then tunnel into and below it, creating a kind of subterranean city. Then dig some ventilation shafts to the top, and you've got yourself a completely functional, easily hidden and defendable city. Such cities also have the advantage of automatic temperature control, as the rocks will keep the temperature moderate.

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