The Secrets of Ancient Roman Concrete, From Then to Now

https://www.a-core.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Ephesus_Celsus_Library_Façade-768x540-1.jpg
Jul/12/18
Ephesus Celsus Library Façade
The outer façade of the Ephesus Celsus has been standing since 114 A.D.

Over time, human knowledge and a society’s technological capabilities increase, and civilizations advance. One thing absolutely central to a civilization, its survival, and its capacity to thrive is its particular set of usable structures. Roads for travel, sewer systems for sanitation, dams, and bridges for safety, and sturdy buildings for shelter – all these are crucial to any society. Consider the ancient Romans, with their revolutionary aqueducts, paved roads, colosseums, and bridges, many of which are still intact today. What was it about that ancient Roman concrete that has kept these structures so well preserved?

 

Romans and Their Advantages

 

According to experts, the Roman Empire was able to prosper and last as long as it did for various reasons. A powerful, centralized government, for example, which served as a headquarters for all operations was immensely effective in sustaining the great global empire. Furthermore, an organized and advanced military, a sophisticated system of laws, and increasingly progressive engineering tactics all played a crucial role in Rome’s prolonged prosperity.

 

It is especially the latter achievement, engineering, that is the focus here. The paths and roads (sometimes up to a foot thick in ancient concrete!) that connected all stretches of the empire, as well as structures like the aqueducts, were well ahead of their time. Still, the fact that some of these accomplishments have survived over centuries is a real testament to ancient Roman concrete and its durability.

 

Geology professor Marie D. Jackson shares from one of her studies that Roman concrete was not developed overnight. The more modern concoction of water, cement, and aggregate is pretty simple compared to their intricate mixture and carefully selected materials. The truth is, their knowledge and abilities in construction and building were also incredibly progressive.

Our Advantages Today

 

While the Romans had great knowledge, manpower, and the necessary materials to make all this happen and devise their elaborate ancient concrete, we have some unique advantages today, as well. Think of the technology that has been discovered and developed over recent years.  Ancient Romans used horses and chariots, but we have mixing machines and computers that can calculate percentages for nearly perfect precision in a mixture or solution.

 

How is concrete made? Well, some kind of aggregate, meaning sand, gravel or rock, is mixed with water and cement. This cement is a combination of aluminum, silicon, iron, clay and sometimes even limestone. This is what acts as a building agent, once combined with water and the aggregate. The mixture is usually composed of 60-75% aggregate. While there may not be any promise that this modern mixture will last for centuries like the ancient concrete that the Romans used, if developed and manufactured properly, it generally holds together contemporary building projects for safe and sturdy structures that last. After all, Dr. Jackson asserts that the ancient Roman concrete would not exactly be applicable for modern construction purposes, like repairing skyscrapers or public transportation systems. That is, it does not fit contemporary needs.

 

History of Concrete

 

Concrete has been developed, changed and adapted over time, and one change that has been made is the addition of glass, steel or plastic fibers to reinforce the mixture. This element is helpful because the cement can sometimes crack, which means it no longer holds the aggregate in place as securely as before. Such unreinforced concrete can greatly weaken a structure and shorten its lifespan.

 

Some historical concrete figures include not only the ancient Roman Pantheon and Colosseum but also the Hoover Dam, constructed in the 1930s at the border between Nevada and Arizona on the Colorado River.  The Panama Canal, which connects the Atlantic and the Pacific Ocean by permeating the strip of land stretching between North and South America, is another famous concrete construction. Though it was constructed over a more extended period of time and by workers from several different countries, this canal has proven itself quite crucial to international sea trade.

 

Properties of Reliable Concrete

 

Amidst all the development listed above, there are some properties of concrete that have remained the same. So, what are the most valued qualities of good, sustainable concrete? It has obviously been preferred over centuries, even millennia, as a favorite building material, even going back as far as the use of ancient concrete by builders and engineers in the Roman Empire. Of course, there are reasons for this. In fact, there are several qualities that indicate concrete as a solid, preferable material:

 

  • Without the usual pores present in such materials, concrete is a strong, durable, and less-penetrable substance.
  • This is a material that can be adapted for use in several different structures, like roads, dams, tunnels, bridges, buildings and much more.
  • Fire-resistance. Cement is not susceptible to fire damage.
  • Cost-effectiveness. Steel and other popular building materials are commonly much more expensive than concrete.
  • Concrete is durable and not easily damaged by mold, moisture or termites the way wood is susceptible to this same kind of damage.

 

Concrete is a versatile, economical and hard-wearing substance, which is a great choice for a wide range of building and repair projects. It is resilient and heavy duty, and when it’s made right, can withstand a great deal of the tests that time often throws its way.

 

 

 

Services Provided by A-Core Concrete

 

When there is some type of building or repair project that needs to be done, it’s important not to trust the job to just anyone. A-Core Concrete Cutting provides a number of trustworthy and professional concrete services, including:

  1. Grooving and Grinding
  2. Residential Services
  3. Demolition
  4. Concrete Pouring
  5. Concrete Cutting and Drilling
  6. Slab Panel Replacement
  7. GPR Concrete Scanning
  8. Joint Sawing and Sealing

 

This is a company willing to branch out over a wide range of projects, from challenging and complex to small and simple. Safety is a priority for workers at A-Core Concrete, and so is providing dependable customer service with every project. For quality concrete that lasts and reliable service, visit the A-Core Concrete Cutting website today. Their highly trained associates are standing by for all your concrete cutting and residential needs. Let them give you the results and concrete peace of mind that you deserve.

 

 

Resources

https://www.a-core.com/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/ancient-roman-concrete-has-lasted-for-centuries-ours-not-so-much/2018/05/14/97927e00-5770-11e8-858f-12becb4d6067_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.9ca6ed3b4bba

https://www.wbcsdcement.org/index.php/key-issues/sustainability-with-concrete/properties-of-concrete

http://www.ancientdigger.com/2011/05/monday-ground-up-why-was-roman-empire.html

http://www.cement.org/cement-concrete-applications/how-cement-is-made

http://www.cement.org/cement-concrete-applications/how-concrete-is-made

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concrete#Reinforcement