'The Chinese invented the compass, gunpowder and the brick' is an old saying amongst brick makers. It could well be true, as archaeologists have unearthed a Chinese burnt clay tableaux that can be dated back 6000 years. The first traces of building bricks are from between 1000 and 2000 years later. In Asia there are remains of 4000-year-old brick buildings. In Bombay a brick kiln from about the same period has been found. Between 900 BC and 600 AD the Babylonians and Assyrians developed a comprehensive brick building technique. In Egypt, a pioneering country in many areas, sun-dried blocks were used, except for the occasional use of stone, possibly because of lack of fuel for firing. Brick remains have been found deep in the silt of the Nile, which could mean that there was once brick production even in this area. In Greece, burnt clay probably came into use during the Golden Age of Athens, around 400 BC.The main product was roofing tiles.The Etruscan walls near Arezzo were built a few years into the Christian epoch and are probably among the first brick structures in Italy.The Roman brick industry developed very quickly and produced a whole series of brick elements for both decorative and structural use.
The brick industry in Europe really developed during the eleventh century, and sincethenbrickhasbeenthedominantbuildingmaterialintowns.Since1920 concrete has become a major rival, but brick now seems to be enjoying a renaissance, partly because of its higherdurabilityandforaesthetic reasons.
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