The Ancient Use of Natural Stone Tells Us Something More!
DiscoveryThe use of natural stone in construction was first seen in Egypt around 5000 years ago. After monsoon rains left the Sahara Desert, the landscape gradually changed - resulting in desiccation. This urged people to move towards the Nile River valleys. This is where the Aswan quarries were discovered. Limestone and red and black granite were extracted from the quarries to build structures like obelisks and sarcophagi which lead to the construction of pyramids we see today.
Means Of advertisementMarble is a natural stone that was recognised for its richness and beauty. Beyond that, it was used to make political statements or as a means of advertisements. The cities of yesterday were occupied with monuments bearing inscriptions on influential people and carvings trying to convey a specific message.
Symbol of prestigeIt is widely known that premium quality marble was used as a symbol of prestige by the royal families. For example, the royal families of the Carthaginian Empire used Turkish Marble to build all of their palaces. Besides that, marble was also used as a symbol of love in the case of Taj Mahal.
Use in flooringNatural stone is mainly recognised for its durability. This is why they are sighted as the material used in flooring. The pyramids of Giza is one of the oldest examples. With the increasing time span, the application continued to advance. There is a piece of evidence that the Greeks created stone mosaic floors about 3000 years ago. Light-coloured stones were used in the flooring that appeared to gleam when exposed to sunlight.
The Most Common Types of Natural Stones Used Centuries Ago
1. MarbleAccording to the sources, Marble was greatly recognised by the Greek and Roman architects as a rich building material. Marble in a variety of colours and intricate patterns enhance the overall elegance of the structures. As mentioned earlier, Taj Mahal, in India, is completely built of polished white marble which looks magnificent.
2. GraniteAs per the Wesleyan University Geology Department, granite has been applied in construction since the great pyramid of Giza. The stone is being quarried in America since the 19th century. The Washington Monument in Washington DC is majorly made up of granite.
3. LimestoneMost of the ancient monuments are built of limestone. The great pyramids of Giza are one of the earliest examples, which are made of limestone blocks, and layered with granite. Another famous example is, The Roman Colosseum built with limestone. Limestone is prone to weathering and erosion when exposed to water and wind. This is perhaps the main reason pyramids casing was done with limestone but were enwrapped with granite for protection.
4. SandstoneSandstone is similar to limestone in composition. Angkor Wat, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Cambodia is fully made up of sandstone. The construction process was so successful that building with sandstone began to be regarded as the “Angkor Wat Style”.
The Drastic Transition In Techniques And ToolsHave you ever thought how were the enormous blocks of stones extracted and transported from quarries to the construction site in ancient times? Well, the Aswan quarries (which are still in use) in Egypt reveal some techniques. The skilled workmen removed the exterior weathered layers of the stone and then dug a trench around the stone to be cut. The required depth for the trench was measured using a cubit rod. Next, the stone was cut in underneath. Possibly, they cleared the pathway on one side to cut the stone and push it out horizontally instead of lifting it. To cut the stone, workers made holes in the stone with a hammer and iron-made chisel and inserted wooden wedges. Now for the transportation, as per the existing sources, Egyptians moved stone blocks on wooden sledges that were dragged by human workers.
Today, old techniques and tools have seen a drastic change. Drilling and blasting have taken over chisels, picks, and hammers. The modern quarries use state-of-the-art technology to cut and transport the natural stones. In fact, the number of workers required has greatly reduced.
Additionally, modern quarry technologies and practices had a reduced amount of energy required to extract natural stones.