Classics and Religious Studies

 

Date of this Version

September 1979

Comments

Published in Transactions of the Nebraska Academy of Sciences 7 (1979), pp. 137-143. Copyright 1979 Thomas Nelson Winter.

Abstract

The evidence of the surviving literature and structure provides this chronology for the development of concrete: Fronto dates for us, by naming consuls, two aqueducts utterly devoid of concrete at 312 and 272 B.C. From Cato, who died in 149 B.C., we can discern that (a) concrete has now become the normal foundation for building, (b) limeburning is now an established trade, and (c) his recipe for cement is primitive-—even medieval—-and non-hydraulic. The year 140 saw the opening of the Marcian Aqueduct, its water-channel lined in non-hydraulic cement. Vitruvius, ca. 25 B.C., describes different cement formulations for different purposes, even giving, knowingly, a recipe for hydraulic cement. The years 38–52, nonetheless, included the building of two aqueducts in the non-hydraulic variety. The harbor at Ostia, built with hydraulic concrete, is finished by 62 A.D. In this same period a surviving concrete dome is cast over a wooden form to make a room of a palace. The Pantheon, a 144-foot diameter cast-in-place concrete dome, marks the acme of the Roman Art in the reign of Hadrian, 117–138 A.D. The high-quality Roman cement persists until 300 A.D., after which time the mix reverts to the original type of Cato. Finally, the cement of Joseph Aspdin’s 1824 patent seems somewhat familiar.

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