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Invention and History of Concrete

Depending on what you interpret concrete to be, this can determine when concrete was really and truly first invented. What we mean by this is, concrete has changed and developed over countless centuries and so, the production of a strong building material has been tried, tested and tailored, which has led us to the optimal concrete mix that we know today. So now you know that, let’s begin. 


6500 BC Ancient Arabia’s use of concrete

The very first concrete-style structures were erected by the Nabataea traders/Bedouins who created a small empire in southern Syria and northern Jordan.

Further on from their developments in 700BC, they discovered the benefits of hydraulic lime and from there, they built kilns to produce mortar to make the construction of houses, concrete floors and lower-level waterproof cisterns. These underground waterproof cisterns enabled the Nabataea to live long lives in the desert.

When producing concrete, the Nabataea knew the ins and outs of keeping the mix as dry as possible because too much water allows for voids in the concrete, making the mixture weaker. What’s more, the Nabataea fine-tuned their building capabilities and introduced tamping, which they did to fully compact the concrete before it cured, to maximise its strength. 

Luckily for the Nabataeas, they had materials such as sandy volcanic ash deposits available to them, which they collected and mixed with lime and heated in their kilns. 

3000 BC Egypt’s use of concrete

To form bricks, Ancient Egyptians used mud and mixed it with straw, which better replicates adobe materials than concrete. That said, they also used gypsum and lime mortars to build the pyramids.

For a better perspective on how much material was required to build the infamous Great Pyramid at Giza, imagine around 500,000 tonnes of mortar – no simple job!

753 BC Ancient Rome’s use of concrete

Romans used the by-products of crushed and burnt limestone and gypsum to make concrete. These ancient materials were then added to sand and water to make a mortar, which was used to fix large stones together. 

221 BC China’s use of concrete

China used a boat-building cement type mix to create the Great Wall. Research has confirmed that the main ingredient in this structure was glutenous, sticky rice and slaked lime. 

Modern use of concrete

Today, concrete is created using cement, coarse/fine aggregates, sand and water – but the ratio entirely depends on the job at hand. Admixtures are also used – these are chemicals which are put into the mix to ensure certain setting properties. For example, admixtures are used when concrete is going to be used in environments where there are weather extremes (strong wind, very high or very low temperatures, heavy rain). 

Feel inspired to build your own project? Speak to Essex Mix. We offer a range of concrete services from volumetric concrete to ready mixed concrete. We supply and deliver the optimal mix to you. Ensuring it’s delivered directly to your chosen site. Contact our friendly team today to place and schedule your order. 

Call us today on 0800 030 6025 for your domestic or commercial aggregate supplies


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