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A History Of Cement

When selling any product, it’s important to have an understanding of where that product came from. Our product, precast concrete walls and fencing, has a rich history that can be traced all the way back to the pyramids and beyond. Throughout the years, humanity as a whole has attempted, over and over again, to find the most sturdy construction materials. Ever since the tower of Babylon was struck down, we’ve been striving toward higher and higher buildings, with stronger and stronger foundations. This drive is backed by more than just a survivalist need to protect and shelter our young, it’s steered by our drive for excellence, for constant self-improvement and our collective disdain for stagnation. So, before you dive into the history of concrete, understand that you’re diving into a story about the human condition as much as you are learning about our need to innovate.

Ancient Concrete

Though the early versions were, not surprisingly, rather simplified versions of the sturdy building material, they were nothing if not innovative and at most times very effective. Concretes earliest application, in a rudimentary form first makes an appearance on the world stage in Egypt as a calcined gypsum compound. The Romans and Greeks used a different type of cement that started off as limestone that was heated and added to sand to create a gritty sort of mortar. They mixed courser, less porous stones with sand for a similar effect to make true concrete to construct buildings that surprisingly still stand today. We’re not simply speaking of Hadrian’s wall and the portions left of the Roman Forum, but of the buildings that act as the very foundation for all of modern-day Rome, where you can glimpse pieces of the ancient world rising from cobblestones and between buildings built in the 70s like a needle presses through cloth. The cement responsible for the foundations of the “lasagna-like” city were often made from this same limestone and sand composite, but the port side towns had to resort to the more innovative form of cement that came sometime after the Roman’s had reached their full glory.

Their new method allowed them to create a concrete that would set beneath water and could be used for the construction of harbors and other submerged structures. They accomplished this by mixing crushed volcanic ash to the same limestone-based cement. When volcanic ash was scarce, they’d start crushing up brick, tile, and other fire-formed rocks to create a similar effect and imitate the strength of these underwater structures. This means that the Romans were the first civilization to create different types of concrete to satisfy different types of projects. After the fall of Roman civilization, this advanced understanding of different types of concrete application disappeared throughout the dark ages and did not reappear until the medieval era. Though, the medieval era pieces of cement concrete are hardly from as skillful of concrete smiths as the Roman examples. Even the most incredible examples of English architecture from those eras relied on almost imitations of the Roman’s methods which were not nearly as effective. The Renaissance, thankfully, brought to light better painting skills and better overall masonry skills as well.

Growing The Concrete Skill-Set

It wasn’t until the British Empire started worrying about building lighthouses during their empire expansion efforts that they rediscovered the Roman method of mixing ground clay and limestone to find the same cement used by the Romans that notoriously hardened underwater. This soon became a widely used stone building method in England. It took until around the year 1845 to figure that firing this same mixture activated some of the materials within this mixture and made it a much stronger version of cement. This led to modern Portland cement that differs mainly from the original Roman version because of the use of rotary kilns, the addition of gypsum to act as a control in the mixture and the introduction of ball mills in the cement production process.

Since cement is one of the most enduring materials from the ancient world, spare maybe paper and gold, it has an interesting and expansive history. However, unlike paper, cement’s recipe hasn’t really changed over the years. You might make the comparison that when we’re building new buildings and pouring new cement, we’re closer to our ancestors than in any other pursuit of human creation. When we started manipulating the status quo surrounding what cement could do, we felt the same innovative drive as they did. The drive to find a better solution to building materials with simple ingredients, and complicated creation processes. It’s true that concrete hasn’t really changed that much in the history of humankind, but the way we think of it has.

AFTEC’s Precast Concrete Walls and Fencing Products

Don’t believe us? Just check out our wide selection of different types of concrete fencing and walls that utilize innovative crafting methods to create easier installations with less money, time, and man hours invested for every single project you complete. We have security focused walls, soundproofing walls and a variety of other specialty methods to craft your wall or fencing that will bring your next project up to the next level.

Reach out to AFTEC today to find out more about how the concrete industry has progressively improved in the last few years and how you can start taking advantage of those improvements for your next project. We’re eager to hear from you and help you accomplish your goals. Reach out to us today.