When you select natural stone such as marble for your floors or granite for your countertops, there is a good chance the chosen material could be more than 200 million years old. Furthermore, some of the criteria that influences your decision may have been applied by ancient architects and builders dating back to the Bronze Age. Here are some of the incredible uses of natural stone throughout history.
More than 5,000 years ago, monsoon rains that used to fall on the Sahara Desert gradually stopped and resulted in desiccation, which prompted tribal migration toward the Nile River valleys. This is where ancient Egyptians discovered the Aswan quarries, which are rich in red and black granite as well as limestone. Slabs extracted from Aswan were used to build obelisks, sarcophagi, and the early structures that would later become the pyramids. The amazing stonework of Ancient Egypt includes the Great Pyramid of Cheops, which was once covered in smooth limestone. However, this stone lacked the modern sealing solutions that allow us to keep kitchen countertops looking shiny and new, such as the regular use of a specially formulated granite sealer.
The Temple of Artemis
Ancient Greeks learned stonework from the Egyptians. They located marble quarries in the Mediterranean islands and used marble to build the Temple of Artemis, which featured more than 100 marble columns and steps. It is not clear whether the builders of this temple were inspired by the Hanging Gardens of Babylon or the other way around. However, the Greeks were the first to use marble to build residential dwellings dating back to 400 BC.
The Roads of the Roman Empire
Deep admiration for the Greek Empire prompted Roman engineers to copy their stone pathways and greatly extend them into a network of roads. Moving troops over granite slabs gave Romans a military edge that later enabled trading. Milestone markers made of marble were first used by Roman engineers, but it was not until about 400 AD when distance markers arrived. When the Roman Empire extended to Hebrew lands, the use of sandstone was incorporated in the building of imperial structures.
The Renaissance Period
During the Middle Ages, the use of natural-stone slabs and tiles took a backseat as builders focused on unfinished brick structures. This would eventually change during the Renaissance when Italian thinkers suggested society should pay more attention to the heritage of Ancient Greece and the Roman Empire before it succumbed to greed and power struggles. Sculptors such as Michelangelo emphasized a work methodology whereby a design was first sketched before making a crude model in terracotta and finally a finished statue in marble. Everyone was mesmerized by Michelangelo’s artistry and efficiency, which prompted builders to use marble in table surfaces, thrones, public baths, and garden pathways. During this historic period, artists and architects from other European kingdoms visited Italy for inspiration.
History has proven that natural stone will continue to be a popular choice for countertops, flooring, and more. If you have granite, marble, slate, or another type of natural stone in your home, make sure to clean it regularly with a stone-safe granite countertop cleaner. To learn more about the benefits of natural stone and how to properly care for it, get in touch with Granite Gold® today at 1-800-475-STONE.