7 Important Events in the History of Construction

The origins of construction were very likely simple lean-tos made of sticks and mud from times when humans were largely nomadic. Because so much of early human life is lost to history, much of what we know about human civilization has been uncovered by archaeologists examining remains of more sophisticated construction techniques using more durable materials.

The history of construction has left an impressive legacy for modern builders. The techniques used in old construction projects have been studied rigorously and evolved over time. Nowadays, modern commercial construction companies like Baycrest use a variety of advanced methods and technologies to facilitate the building projects.

This list highlights some of the milestones in history of construction, showcasing some of the architectural movements from prehistory through the Renaissance:

1. Neolithic, or Stone Age Construction (9000 BCE to 5000 BCE)

The Neolithic era is the name for the period before woodworking began in earnest and it has a great contribution when it comes to history of construction. These were The Flintstones times, when tools were primarily fashioned from animal and natural materials like bone and stone, often worked using water.

The earliest known bricks, made from mud, date to this period (8000 BC). Archaeologists have uncovered evidence of rock-cut architecture, mounds, temples, tombs, tents, and other dwellings. The most lasting legacy of Neolithic construction is Stonehenge, the imposing megalith made of symmetrically geometrically arranged stones.

2. Ancient Egyptian Construction (3150 BCE to 332 BCE)

Ancient Egyptian civilization spanned so much time and refers to a series of periods of different and distinct kingdoms or dynastic rule. In general, wood was difficult to come by in the Nile River valley and delta. As a result, construction in Ancient Egypt used stone and mud brick cured in the sun. The Ancient Egyptians mostly worked with limestone as well as sandstone and granite to build tombs, temples, palaces, fortresses, and of course, pyramids.

These are among the most durable building materials, which is why so many of these buildings have endured the centuries. Construction was largely carried out by slave labour, making possible monumental structures like the grand Pyramids at Giza. Many monumental structures were aligned with astrological markers and built using sophisticated post and lintel support structures.

3. Ancient Greek Construction (800 BCE to 146 BCE)

Three architectural styles dominate Ancient Greek architecture: Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian. These styles were orders that governed the form and ornamentation of different types of Ancient Greek construction, and are most directly reflected in the columns used for support and decoration. The Ancient Greeks are best known for temples, like the Parthenon, many of which still stand all over the former Hellenistic world, preserved by Roman and subsequent civilizations.

The Greeks also incorporated architectural sculptures into their buildings, with carvings depicting religious, natural and historical scenes. Ancient Greek architecture is known for its highly formalised organization, which reflected scientific and geometric knowledge. Though the Greeks are best remembered for monumental structures made of marble and limestone, wood was much more common building material, especially for private residences.

Ancient Greek construction also pioneered open-air theatres, processional gateways, civil buildings like a town square, public monuments, mausoleums, and stadiums, as well as public squares (known as agora) which were surrounded by a colonnade (called stoa).

4. Ancient Roman Construction (753 BCE to 1453 ADE)

The Romans admired and adapted much of the architecture of Ancient Greece, but the Ancient Romans developed and refined use of concrete in construction. Made from a mixture of lime mortar, aggregate, pozzolana, water, and stone, Roman concrete was durable and when poured into wooden frames, it was a versatile and ubiquitous building material. The wide reach and long period of Roman rule creates room for variety, but Roman values of harmony, order and precision dominate.

The Ancient Romans were masters of civil engineering, infrastructure, and other large public construction from roads to canals to large walls. Developments like viaducts, waterways and baths improved hygiene and health in Roman territories. Roman architecture would provide the vocabulary to subsequent construction styles across Europe.

5. Chinese Construction (7th century to the Ming dynasty, 1368–1644)

China was a closed society for many years, and nowhere is this more evident that in the Great Wall of China, which had existed in varied form since the 7th century. During the Ming Dynasty, China officially closed itself off to outsiders, and it was during this period that the fortifications of the Great Wall were strengthened and expanded using stone, soil, sand, and brick. Ancient Chinese construction mostly used wood and timber.

6. Pre-Romanesque and Romanesque construction (500 ACE to 11th century ACE)

The pre-romanesque and Romanesque periods mark the intermingling of different European styles, in particular the introduction of Germanic architecture to the rest of the continent. Castles and fortifications characterize these styles from the Middles Ages or Medieval period, which involved the construction of massive, monolithic structures with thick walls and sturdy support pillars, with rounded arches, barrel vaults and large towers.

7. Renaissance architecture (14th to 16th century ACE)

The Renaissance is characterized by revivals of elements drawn from ancient Greek and Roman construction, architecture and urban planning. Classical order in the form of columns, pillars, lintels, arches, and domes appeared in Florence during this time. One important figure in Renaissance thought and design is the Italian architect Filippo Brunelleschi. Because his work helped to popularize many of these ideas, he is still considered to be one of the first modern architects.

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