Arguably the most widely used construction material in the world, modern concrete is the result of over 5,000 years of innovation and experimentation. From the Egyptian pyramids to present-day skyscrapers, its presence and popularity are forever cemented in time. Read on to learn about the history of concrete.
In the Beginning…
Speaking of cement, it’s worth noting that while they are closely related, concrete and cement are not the same. In fact, cement is a key ingredient in concrete mixtures, alongside gravel, sand, and water. Ancient structures were often built using crude cement made from limestone and gypsum. Over time, architects began including additional materials, like volcanic ash, milk, blood, and lard, ultimately perfecting the mix into an early form of concrete.
The invention of modern concrete can be traced back to John Smeaton, a British engineer, who, in 1756, began incorporating hydraulic cement, mixing bricks, and pebbles into the mix. His idea was later improved upon after the invention of Portland cement in 1824. Developed by Joseph Aspdin, this cement mixture required burning chalk and clay to eliminate carbon dioxide. Aspdin later improved on his methods by modifying his clay and limestone proportions, crushing them, burning the mixture, and grinding them into a new and improved cement.
Today’s concrete mixture relies heavily on Portland cement, which is mixed with coarse aggregates, fine aggregates, and water. When mixed properly, each aggregate particle is surrounded by cement paste, filling and sealing any spaces to ensure added strength and durability. Portland cement binds the materials and hardens the entire mix into a solid mass. In most cases, this concrete mixture only grows stronger with age.
When it comes to concrete, nobody knows more than The L. Suzio York Hill Companies. Serving south-central Connecticut since 1898, they offer a full range of building materials, including ready-mix concrete products, crushed stone, paving concrete, crushed trap rock, and more. Visit them online, or call their Meriden headquarters at (203) 237-8421 to learn more about their products and services.