The History of Concrete

Though concrete hasn’t always been as strong and durable as it is nowadays, it has been around for a really long time. There’s actually even an account of concrete made by nature itself over twelve million years ago. A deposit of cement was discovered and investigated in the 1960s and 1970s, it was determined that an oil shale next to a bed of limestone formed a type of concrete when the the oil shale burned due to natural causes. Even human accounts of creating concrete go back thousands of years to 6500 BC, concrete materials were created by the Nabataean traders or the Bedouins who lived in regions of southern Syria and northern Jordan. By 700 BC they discovered hydraulic lime which has some self cementing properties. They built concrete floors, kilns, and even underground waterproof cisterns.

Concrete was also used by Romans and Egyptians. Romans added horsehair to concrete to decrease shrinkage and to prevent the concrete from cracking. They also added blood to the concrete to help resist frost. Concrete floors made of pebbles and lime were discovered in the royal palace of Tiryns in Greece, which dates approximately to 1400-1200 BC. In 800 BC, lime mortar was used in Greece, Cyprus, and Crete. In 688 BC, waterproof concrete was used to build the Assyrian Jerwan Aqueduct. Many ancient structures utilized different types of concrete.

Concrete was used extensively by the Romans from 300 BC to 476 AD, which is more than 700 years! Roman concrete was made of pozzolana, quicklime, and an aggregate of pumice. The use of this concrete spread and concrete was used in a variety of structures, this allowed the Romans to utilize concrete in more complex structures instead of using only bricks and stones for construction. They used concrete to make vaults, arches, and domes. Some modern tests have actually shown that the strength of Roman concrete is similar to that of Portland concrete, but they did not use any type of reinforcement. Many Roman structures still stand today due to the widespread use of Roman concrete. Romans also utilized concrete to build roads, it has been found that roughly 5,300 miles of roads were constructed using Roman concrete.

For some time after the Roman Empire the use of concrete fizzled out, but then picked back up from the 14th to the 18th century. From 1756 to 1759, Smeaton’s Tower, a lighthouse, was constructed using hydraulic lime in the concrete mix with powdered brick and pebbles as the aggregate. In, 1824, Portland cement was invented and patented by Joseph Aspdin. The first time that concrete was systematically tested was in Germany in 1836. The tensile strength and compressive strength was measured. In 1849, Joseph Monier invented reinforced concrete with the use of iron mesh. He was a gardener who made tubs and flower pots and used the iron mesh to reinforce them. In 1867 he received a patent for his reinforced concrete.

The first rotary kiln was used in England in 1886, which made a steady production of cement. In 1889, the first concrete reinforced bridge was constructed and in 1891, the first concrete road was constructed in Ohio by George Bartholomew. Concrete was used in production of many roads and buildings by the 1920s. The Hoover Dam and the Grand Coulee Dam were the first dams made of concrete in 1936.

Since the beginning of time it seems that some form of concrete was produced and it has progressed over time to what we have today, which is the strongest and most popular building material. Concrete has an extensive history and can be utilized in so many ways. We are fond of polishing and staining it, as well as many other services.

At Custom Concrete Creations we have state of the art equipment and a properly trained team with years of experience. Custom Concrete Creations is a premier contractor serving the Omaha area as well at the Midwest. Give us a call or send us an email for your custom concrete finishing needs today!