The Iroquois lived in longhouses, large houses up to 100 feet in length usually made of elm bark. As many as 20 families shared the longhouse, with dozens of individuals and their dogs occupying the space. Longhouses were notoriously smoky as the fumes from cooking and fires could only escape through small holes in the ceiling. Villages of longhouses were built in the forest, usually near water. They were surrounded by tall palisades or sharpened logs stuck vertically in the earth.