Before electricity buzzed in all of our cars, tablets, and homes, peoples of the world didn’t know the smell of newly-paved asphalt. In those pre-industrial days, you were lucky if your kingdom or principality even maintained the highways and roadways. Prior to the ancient Romans and their brand of volcanic concrete, Babylonians in 1300 B.C had discovered that they could smear their roads and walls with limestone. Mixing with the clay and natural chemicals in the air, this form of proto-concrete spread to the harbors of the Mediterranean and the trade routes of the Silk Road.
Digging even deeper into the past, we’ve also found concrete fortresses and structures built by Bedouins in prehistoric Syria and Jordan (as far back as 6500 B.C). When the Romans finally appeared in the sediment, it was in the 3rd Century B.C; as a culmination of all their efforts to unify the Italian peninsula. Without the aid of commercial concrete contractors from 21st century Philadelphia, the Romans still succeeded in funding and paving a massive network of roadways, connecting all corners of their civilization.
The Secret Recipe
To this day, Roman citizens (and automobiles) still tread along the cobblestones of the Via Apia in Roma, Italy. Despite the fall of the empire and a state of neglect and disrepair, these roads have remained intact for over 2000 years. What was the secret to their concrete, you ask? A natural chemical reaction was occurring the whole time! When limestone and volcanic ash mixed with the moisture of the Mediterranean, silica oxides and lime grew in the cracks, reinforcing bricks as if they were steel. Until the patenting of Portland cement in 1824, engineers fruitlessly tried their hand at re-discovering Roman pozzolan cement.
The Portland Variety
After George Bartholomew paved the first American road in 1894, Portland Cement blew up in a big way–giving rise to apartments in Paris, bridges in Maryland, and Italy, and even the 1935 Hoover Dam. Today Portland cement is utilized in constructing roads and high-rises throughout the U.S and the world. With all those thousands of cubic yards of concrete to deliver, pick up, and dispose of, the citizens of Bucks County know they can rely on their friends for affordable, roll-off dumpster rentals.