Earth’s First Building Material
Dating back to about 4,000 BC, the first masonry arch of sun-baked brick was constructed in the ancient city of Ur, located in what was then Mesopotamia.
One of the great engineering feats of all time was the stone masonry structure known as Stonehenge. Stretching the concept of “unit” masonry, Britain’s Stonehenge was constructed over 4,000 years ago of 80 bluestones weighing 4 tons each and dozens of giant sarsen stones weighing as much as 50 tons each. Modern studies suggest that at least 600 men were needed to transport just one giant stone from its source to the temple site.
The famous Great Wall of China is possibly the greatest example of masonry’s impact on history. Constructed around 210 BC, it stretched for 1,400 miles and contained 3,873,000,000 brick. Durable and resilient, brick was chosen as the building material for the structure that protected an entire civilization.
As civilization advanced and cities arose, the need for buildings increased. Many cities that built first with lumber learned early on about the tremendous costs of rebuilding. After the great fire of the late 1600s, London rebuilt with brick and stone. Chicago’s great fire also transformed it into a masonry city and strict building codes were enacted, some of which are still on the books today. Denver’s great fire of 1863 had a similar effect. Masonry ordinances requiring that all buildings within the city limits be built of fireproof materials, i.e., brick and stone, remained in place for nearly 80 years.
Resource: Rocky Mountain Masonry Institute – www.rmmi.org