History of Technology 5: New Building Materials

New building materials both made homes stronger than ever before, and made wolves work harder than ever on their lung strength.

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TechnologyHistory of Technology

Transcript

00:20

Ancient civilizations, like Egypt, Rome, Greece, Persia, China, and the Mayan cultures, to name a few, built [Pictures of constructions]

00:27

some of the grandest and most impressive structures in the world.

00:31

And they didn't have a single crane, bulldozer, or dump truck between them.

00:35

Nothin' like good ol' fashioned slave labor to get the job done…well, not all of it [Man dressed in rags pulling a large rock]

00:40

was slave labor…

00:41

Still, any amount of slave labor is too much slave labor.

00:46

But back to building materials…

00:48

First and maybe foremost, ancient peoples kept on building with mud…. [Man chucks mud at another man]

00:52

…but with time, they got way better at it, transforming mud into hard, dry bricks. [Man putting wood into a fire]

00:58

In places like ancient Egypt, bricks were formed out of clay and mud and baked in the

01:03

sun.

01:04

It also gave ancient Egyptians a great chance to work on their tans and pores. [Man sits on hot mud bricks and gets burned]

01:09

Egyptians also came up with mortar, which is a mixture of sand and clay that helped [Bricklayer building a wall]

01:13

hold their bricks together.

01:15

This same process was used to build mud and brick skyscrapers.

01:20

Talk about luxury.

01:21

Wonder if there were doormen.

01:23

The Romans were the first to figure out how to bake their bricks in kilns to make them [Man putting bricks into a kiln]

01:28

stronger. [Brick with arms lifting weights]

01:30

The structures they built could therefore be taller and last longer in the weather. [Picture of a castle]

01:35

The Romans were basically architectural wizards, and they didn’t even have Hogwarts.

01:40

Need more proof of their architectural magic?

01:42

Well, how about this: Romans came up with concrete. [Man dressed as a wizard makes a bag of concrete appear with a wand]

01:45

Yup.

01:46

We know, concrete doesn't seem like an ancient thing…

01:48

…but lo and behold, Roman engineers figured out how to blend lime, sand, and natural cement

01:54

together to make actual-factual concrete. [Man mixing ingredients in a barrel]

01:57

And sure, it took them a while to stop using the citrus fruit, but they figured it out

02:02

eventually.

02:03

Concrete allowed them to build aqueducts, roads, and buildings. [Pictures of Roman contructions]

02:07

And all those cool things would have been super useful in the Middle Ages, except apparently,

02:12

some raging barbarians lost the recipe. [Barbarian rips up the recipe for concrete]

02:17

Nice work there, raging barbarians.

02:18

This is why the Middle Ages couldn't have nice things.

02:22

Anyway.

02:24

Concrete also helped with the construction of large domes in buildings. [Man dressed as a wizard makes a large dome appear on the top of a building]

02:27

Y'know, those bulbous creations, which magically manage to not collapse in a few millennia?

02:32

Yup.

02:33

Concrete.

02:34

Before the Romans, nobody had figured out how to make a domed ceiling. [Man looking at the ceiling scratching his head]

02:39

It's a bit of an engineering and mathematical puzzle.

02:41

But the Romans built one that remained the largest dome in the world for more than 1,000

02:46

years

02:48

Romans also brought us plaster.

02:50

…Okay, they didn't strictly invent plaster, because other people had the idea of putting [Roman man plastering a wall]

02:54

lime and clay on their walls.

02:56

But the Romans definitely used it to a new extent, which made their homes a lot…homier. [Man sipping a drink sat in a luxury room]

03:01

Sorry, next time we’ll try harder with our adjectives. [Thesaurus is chucked at the Shmoop house]