The History of Brick and How Masonry Came to Be

Brick is one of the most commonly used construction materials across the globe. Among other benefits, brick is weatherproof, energy efficient and relatively low maintenance. But who invented the brick, and what is brick masonry exactly? If you’ve ever asked yourself these questions, keep reading. This post will cover everything you need to know about the history of brick and masonry.

Early days of masonry

Let’s start by answering the question, “What is brick masonry?” In short, masonry is the craft of building structures with stone, clay, brick or concrete blocks, and is one of the world’s oldest trades.

Civilizations began using bricks made from sun-dried mud as far back as 10,000 years ago. These ancient people preferred structures made of stone or brick because they were more weather resistant than any other previous building technology.

The first kiln-fired bricks were made in approximately 3500 BC. These bricks were much stronger than their sun-dried predecessors, and they were made in uniform shapes, which allowed for easier construction.

Ancient Egypt

Masons were an integral part of the Ancient Egyptian culture, as they were responsible for crafting the pyramids around 2600 BC. The pyramids are built of massive pieces of limestone with granite lining the walls of the burial chambers.

Where the earliest masons merely used mud to bind the bricks, Egyptian masons filled gaps with mixtures of rubber and gypsum. Despite not having the best binding properties, it’s safe to say that the Egyptians’ mortar has held up pretty well over the years!

The Roman Empire

The art of masonry spread throughout the Roman Empire. All of the Roman temples and buildings, including the Colosseum, were built by masons. Roman soldiers even brought traveling kilns with them everywhere they went to construct their famous roads.

The Middle Ages

Masons generally made castles, cathedrals and bridges out of stone during Medieval times. By constructing their buildings out of large stone blocks and limestone plaster, masons were able to build massive structures that could withstand even the fiercest sieges.

The Industrial Revolution

Great advancements were made in masonry during the Industrial Revolution between 1760 and 1840. Brick production became faster, and the bricks that were produced were much sturdier. Additionally, transporting bricks and other heavy building materials became easier due to improved infrastructure.

It was also at this point when brick production became more standardized. Today, the standard size for a brick in the United States is 2.5” x 3.75” x 8”.

Masonry today

Metal frames have mostly replaced brick masonry as the preferred construction method for many buildings these days. However, the masonry industry remains strong thanks to the production of concrete blocks. Concrete is a much more durable material than traditional bricks, and is more economical to produce.

What can we do for you?

The answer to who invented the brick isn’t exactly straightforward. What is straightforward, though, is who you should buy all of your concrete blocks from. Beavertown Block Co., Inc. sells the highest-quality masonry supplies for both commercial and residential projects. Give us a call today to get a quote on materials for your next project.