The History Of Concrete


Believe it or not, both residential and commercial concrete services have been around in one form or another for thousands of years – and that’s because some of the earliest forms of concrete are recorded to have dated back to around 6500 B.C. Concrete has enjoyed a long and sturdy history as not only a solid building material but also a medium for artists to communicate their emotions through. So, let’s take a look back at the history of concrete and learn about the journey this widely used material took to get where it is today.


Early types of concrete

When the first known form of concrete was used is too difficult to pinpoint. Some say that as early as 6500 B.C concrete flooring was being used in Syria and Jordan – whilst other sources have claimed that limestone was used some 12,000 years ago in a temple where modern-day Turkey is. It is, however, a well-known fact that ancient civilisations such as the Greeks, Egyptians and Romans all used some form of concrete for construction purposes.

Whilst it was initially believed that structures like the pyramids were simply built using limestone blocks – new research has found that a man-made method was present and helped the construction process. This concrete-esque method is believed to have only been used on the higher levels of the pyramid.

The Ancient Greek’s were the first people to use hydraulic mortar – which sets when it comes into contact with water. One of the more popular mixtures was limestone and volcanic Earth – particularly from a specific Greek colony (Nisiros or Thira) near modern-day Naples. The Roman Empire further refined this method and began using a specific type of volcanic ash named Pozzolana – as well as adding other elements into the mixture such as blood (which improved frost resistance) and horsehair to strengthen it further.

Both the words concrete, and cement are taken from the Latin words concretus and Caementis. The Roman Empire used concrete to create countless structures and infrastructure including the great colosseum. Unfortunately, after the fall of the Roman Empire, it was quite a while before any advancements were made in concrete as the world fell into the dark ages.


The renaissance

Up until the renaissance – ancient Roman texts had remained buried or undecipherable until Giovanni Giocondo was able to decipher them and learn about concrete – rediscovering the secret to the foundational material. He used this knowledge to create the first Pont Notre-Dame Bridge as well as the houses that went on top of it. This, however, proved to be too much pressure for the early mixture of concrete and the bridge and houses were demolished 250 years later.

During the 16th Century, a German bricklayer discovered Trass – another type of volcanic ash similar to pozzolana – and found that when mixed with lime mortar it created another form of concrete that was much stronger than previous iterations. Soon the material was traded across Europe and countries began to try and find their own alternatives. An Englishman, John Smeaton, founded what we today know as natural cement by testing different types of limestone.


Portland cement

Portland cement is what we use today – but its creation is a bit more interesting than what you might think. The inventor, Joseph Aspdin, was an English bricklayer who would steel limestone bricks from roads in the 1820s and ended up creating his own mixture which was much stronger. This was known as Portland cement – named after the Isle of Portland which is filled with limestone.

At the same time, his son, William Aspdin, began a fraudulent journey that involved using his own cement mix that was taken from discarded clinker and actually improved on his father’s mixture. He claimed that the mixture was the same as his father’s, however, and went through four different businesses – committing fraud along the way. He ended up in Germany working for several concrete businesses.


Rebar concrete

The next big innovation in concrete was rebar concrete which was created by Ernest Ransome. Ransome attempted to fix the issue of reinforced concrete cracking by experimenting with two-inch iron rods and seeing if they’d bond with concrete. The experiment was a success and rebar concrete is responsible for countless impressive residential and commercial concrete structures having been built over the last 100+ years.


Looking for commercial concrete services?

Prestige Concrete Services is your prime option for all commercial concrete services in Melbourne. As you can see from our past projects, we provide high-calibre solutions and will work with you to ensure all your boxes are checked.

If you’d like to know about our commercial concrete services, then please give us a call on 0411 440 157 or fill out the contact form on our website.