History Of Concrete And Cement | A Brief Timeline

Concrete is a ‘term’ used in our daily lives. When we say or plan any construction, concrete is the term that strikes first in our mind. For various types of constructions, we need concrete, whether driveways, roads, buildings, sidewalks, or other structures. There is a comprehensive history of concrete and cement as they came into existence many decades back.

Nobody can ever imagine a construction world without concrete, and also, the developed world would look radically different without it. But have you ever wondered where concrete came from, how it came into our world, and so on?

There is a long but impressive history of thousands of years behind this essential building material. The history of this material began even before the Egyptian pyramids evolved in the time of Roman structures and still heading to modern construction.

Here, we will get to know about concrete, the year of portland cement/ concrete introduction, timeline history of concrete since ages, etc.

How Concrete And Cement Came Into This World?

When the concrete was first invented depends on how someone interprets ‘concrete.’ Older materials were crude cement made by burning and crushing gypsum or limestone. Lime is usually known as crushed or burned limestone.

Whenever water and sand were added to this crude cement, they became mortar. Mortar was the plaster-like material useful for adhering stones to each other. These materials evolved and improved over thousands of years and finally came out as modern concrete.

Today’s concrete is made using Portland cement, fine aggregates of stone and sand, coarse and water. Admixtures are added to the concrete mix to control their setting properties. Those are used mainly while pouring concrete in extreme conditions such as windy weather, high/ low temperatures, etc.

In 1824, Joseph Aspdin invented Portland cement by burning fine ground clay and chalk until no carbon dioxide was present. Aspdin gave the name ‘Cement’ after quarrying high-quality building stones in Portland of England.

The first use of Portland cement was done in France and England between 1850 and 1880. It was used by Francois Coignet, who also added steel rods for preventing exterior walls from spreading.

Timeline History Of Concrete Through Ages

With time, concrete evolved year by year, similar to other means of construction and development. Initially, ancient people discovered naturally occurring material and thought they could use it to improve the fundamental parts of infrastructure such as homes, walls, fences, etc.

Period Concrete History
12 Million Years ago Spontaneous combustion between oil shale and limestone producing ‘naturally occurring cement’ that further forms concrete.
Ten Thousand Years BC Limestone Structure. Turkey was the earliest famous limestone structure made of T-shaped pillars of this temple.
6500 BC Desert Cisterns. First concrete like structures such as secret cisterns to store scarce water built by Bedouin traders or Nabataea.
5600 BC Pre-concrete floors and surfaces. Huts were found in the mid-1960s in the Lepenski vir area of former Yugoslavia country with the concrete floorings.
3000 BC Egypt Pyramids. Formation of Blocks in the Egyptian pyramids are done with the early type of pre-concrete.
1400 to 1700 BC Minoan Crete Structures.
1300 BC First coating of lime. Middle easter builders burned limestone and mixed water in it. It was used for coating the exterior of their pounded clay walls.
1000 BC Grecian tombs. Mycenaeans used this type of early cement to build tombs. Today, you can see them in the Peloponnese.
770 to 476 BC Great Wall of China. Northern Chinese used this form of cement to build boats and the part of the Great Wall.
700 BC Mortar, Kilns, and Hydraulic lime. Bedouins who made underground cisterns built kilns later to produce rudimentary sort of hydraulic lime.
300 to 500 SD Roman style architecture. Rome began with the same raw materials as Minoan’s volcanic ash discovered near Mount Vesuvius and Pompeii. They thickened the kilned limestone mixture, sand, water, and ground-up rocks for building roads and terraces.
82 AD Colosseum. Emperor Vespasian set out to build the largest theater of the world after the civil war of Rome, having more than 50,000 seats. About the third of the structure still stands as the iconic symbol of the Roman Empire.
117 to 125 AD Pantheon and concrete loss. The Pantheon of Rome is going to be about 1900 years old and is sturdy as before. The unreinforced concrete dome of the temple was twice as high and wide as the other dome created at the time.
1507 Renaissance-Dame Bridge-Pant Notre. An italian friar Giovanni Giocondo after dark time built Pont Notre-Dame Bridge in Paris by using remnant information from ancient Roman Cement making process. This structure was demolished after 250 years because built houses added too much weight.
16th Century Progression The bricklayer in Germany tried to mix volcanic ash with lime mortar and the material that resulted was strong and water-resistant. The chain reaction took place with this discovery leading to creation of modern cement.
17th Century The Dutch sold trass (volcanic ash and limestone mixture) to Britain and France in the 17th century for use on buildings that need waterproofing features.
1793 production of modern hydraulic lime when the British civil engineer John Smeaton built a new lighthouse on the Eddystone rock in Cornwall of England. After searching limestone nearer with the high clay concentration, he fired it and turned it in the clinker. Ground it to powder and mix it with water to create a paste and build the lighthouse. After concrete secretes lost, Smeaton refound how to make cement.
1824 Portland Cement invention. Joseph Aspdin finally refined the procedure by proportioning limestone chalk with clay and burning the mix in a kiln. He additionally heated silica and alumina until the materials became glass-like. Then added it into limestone mixed with gypsum.
1836 Strength testing. The first compressive and tensile strength testing of concrete occurred in Germany.
1850s Reinforcement with steel mesh patent. Joseph Monier who is a French gardener experimented successfully by pouring concrete on a steel mesh.
1880s Iron Bars reinforcement. Ernest Ransome started testing concrete and two inches iron rods for checking the bonding of materials. He twisted iron bars for creating the armature around which he build concrete into the desired shape.
1889 First reinforced bridge of concrete – Alvord lake bridge. In San Francisco, Alvord lake Bridge was built in 1889. It survived the earthquake without damage and still stands today after 100 years.
1891 First American Concrete street. George Bartholomew built the first street of concrete in America.
1903 Ingalls Building – First High Rise Of Concrete. The system of Ransom made the first high rise of concrete in Cincinnati in 1903.
1899 Vienne river bridge in France. Vienne River bridge was built in 1899 in Chatellerault of France and is the famous reinforced bridges of concrete in the world.
1908 Concrete homes. The world’s first concrete homes were built-in Union of New Jersey by thomas Edison.
1913 First Ready Mix. The first concrete ready mix was delivered in Baltimore. Having concrete mixed in one place and delivery by truck to use at the site was the great revolution in the concrete industry.
1915 Color Concrete. Lynn Mason Scofield discovered L.M. Scofield i.e. the first firm produced color of concrete.
1930 Air entraining agents were used for the very first time in concrete for resisting the damage from thawing and freezing. It became the boon to cold-weather building practices across the world and United States.
1936 Hoover Dam was the largest scale concrete project located on the Arizona and Nevada border.
1956 to 1992 American interstate highway system are made of concrete.
1963 Assembly hall of University of Illinois. It was the first sports area having concrete dome built on the campus of Illinois University at Urbana champaign in the year 1963.
1970s Fiber Reinforcement in which carbon, steel, glass, or other synthetic fibers get mixed with wet concrete before pouring to strengthen concrete.
1992 Tallest Reinforced concrete building was made in Chicago with the postmodern structure.

What Is The Future Of Concrete?

Concrete is considered an excellent solution to the building issues of the world because it is malleable when wet and strong/ durable when dry. Also, it is the cheaper material to use for building almost everything you wish.

The issue is that it is not permanent. It does not remain intact and viable for a very very long time, even though it does not break easily. Modern concrete can keep its integrity without any bigger repair or replacement for around a century. Reinforced concrete today is no longer a match for Roman concrete.

If reinforced concrete is made cheap with inferior ingredients, unbalanced mix, or careless pouring, it can start to disintegrate from the interior. Hence, there will be many emerging methods to improve concrete, including some special treatment for preventing water from getting through the steel.

Other advancements will respond to increasing the world’s attention to sustainability. A recent report says that replicating Roman concrete’s recipe is possible because it is waterproof and stronger when it comes into contact with seawater.