The History Of Concrete And Cement | A Brief Timeline

In the construction industry, one of the terms that strike first in most people’s minds is concrete.

Concrete is a composite material made up of two or more components, namely aggregates and a binder. Whether it be driveways, roads, buildings, sidewalks, and all other structures, concrete is essential for everyday life.

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, and how it developed over time?

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 when Portland cement was introduced, and the brief timeline of concrete throughout history.

The Origins of Cement and Concrete

When 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 become 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 after year. Similar to other means of construction and development, concrete has been modified and improved to suit modern-day needs.

timeline printed on the road

Initially, ancient people discovered this naturally occurring material and thought they could use it to improve the fundamental parts of infrastructure such as homes, walls, fences, etc.

PeriodConcrete History
12 Million Years agoSpontaneous combustion between oil shale and limestone that produces ‘naturally occurring cement’ that further forms concrete.
Ten Thousand Years BCLimestone Structure. Turkey was the earliest famous limestone structure made of T-shaped pillars of this temple.
6500 BCDesert Cisterns. First concrete-like structures such as secret cisterns to store scarce water were built by Bedouin traders or Nabataea.
5600 BCPre-concrete floors and surfaces. Huts were found in the mid-1960s in the Lepenski vir area of former Yugoslavia country with concrete floorings.
3000 BCEgypt Pyramids. Formation of Blocks in the Egyptian pyramids is done with the early type of pre-concrete.
1400 to 1700 BCMinoan Crete Structures.
1300 BCThe 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 BCGrecian tombs. Mycenaeans used this type of early cement to build tombs. Today, you can see them in the Peloponnese.
770 to 476 BCGreat Wall of China. Northern Chinese used this form of cement to build boats and part of the Great Wall.
700 BCMortar, Kilns, and Hydraulic lime. Bedouins who made underground cisterns built kilns later to produce a rudimentary sort of hydraulic lime.
300 to 500 SDRoman-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 ADColosseum. Emperor Vespasian set out to build the largest theater in the world after the civil war of Rome, having more than 50,000 seats. About a third of the structure still stands as the iconic symbol of the Roman Empire.
117 to 125 ADPantheon 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.
1507Renaissance-Dame Bridge-Pant Notre. An Italian friar Giovanni Giocondo after dark time built Pont Notre-Dame Bridge in Paris by using remnant information from the ancient Roman Cement making process. This structure was demolished after 250 years because built houses added too much weight.
16th Century ProgressionThe 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 the creation of modern cement.
17th CenturyThe 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 limewhen the British civil engineer John Smeaton built a new lighthouse on the Eddystone rock in Cornwall of England. After searching for limestone nearer to 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 were lost, Smeaton refound how to make cement.
1824Portland 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.
1836Strength testing. The first compressive and tensile strength testing of concrete occurred in Germany.
1850sReinforcement with steel mesh patent. Joseph Monier who is a French gardener experimented successfully by pouring concrete on a steel mesh.
1880sIron Bars reinforcement. Ernest Ransome started testing concrete and two inches of 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.
1889First 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.
1891First American Concrete street. George Bartholomew built the first street of concrete in America.
1903Ingalls Building – First High Rise Of Concrete. The system of Ransom made the first high rise of concrete in Cincinnati in 1903.
1899Vienne 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.
1908Concrete homes. The world’s first concrete homes were built-in the Union of New Jersey by Thomas Edison.
1913First Ready Mix. The first concrete ready mix was delivered in Baltimore. Having concrete mixed in one place and delivered by truck to use at the site was a great revolution in the concrete industry.
1915Color Concrete. Lynn Mason Scofield discovered L.M. Scofield i.e. the first firm to produce color of concrete.
1930Air entraining agents were used for the very first time in concrete for resisting the damage from thawing and freezing. It became a boon to cold-weather building practices across the world and United States.
1936Hoover Dam was the largest-scale concrete project located on the Arizona and Nevada border.
1956 to 1992American interstate highway systems are made of concrete.
1963Assembly hall of the University of Illinois. It was the first sports area to have concrete dome built on the campus of Illinois University at Urbana Champaign in the year 1963.
1970sFiber Reinforcement is in which carbon, steel, glass, or other synthetic fibers get mixed with wet concrete before pouring to strengthen concrete.
1992The tallest reinforced concrete building was made in Chicago with a postmodern structure.

What Is The Future Of Concrete?

Concrete is mainly considered to be an excellent solution for most construction projects. In the future, concrete will continue to evolve and develop new ways of being used that are more efficient, durable, and environmentally friendly.

The future of concrete lies in sustainability; as more research is done and new technologies are developed, there will be a rise in sustainable and green forms of concrete production that has a less environmental impact.

Two construction workers or engineers.

In addition, advancements in construction technology will allow for advanced materials to be used in the production of concrete. These materials could eliminate the need for traditional reinforcements and increase the strength and durability of the structure.

Moreover, more construction projects will be made with precast concrete structures, which are lighter, more efficient, and easier to install than traditional concrete structures.

Today, precast concrete is already used for projects such as parking garages, high-rise buildings, and roadways.

Overall, the future of concrete is bright and it will continue to evolve in order to meet the needs of modern construction projects.

Concrete will remain an essential component for building up our cities and creating robust and durable foundations that can withstand the test of time.

Scroll to Top