The Beginnings of Asphalt & Concrete


In the Beginning…

The earliest recordings of concrete was 6500 BC and asphalt dates all the way back to 625 BC. And materials have been around ever since. The first society to use asphalt as a road building material was over in Babylon, southern Mesopotamia. Today that’s Iraq, the city of Hillah. Then the Greeks began using asphalt, but as a mortar, or water sealant. Concrete started its journey in the regions of Syria and Jordan being traded by the Nabataea. They used concrete for floors, housing structures, & underground canals (Cisterns)  that collected rainwater. Before that though, Egypt & China used mixed mud & straw to bind dried bricks together.

The Romans

The Romans weren’t the first to create concrete, but they definitely were the first to use it widespread. In the beautiful beginnings the Romans successfully applied the use of concrete in a mass majority of their construction. Using a mix of volcanic ash, lime, and seawater they formed  the “concrete” mix. Like today, they used wooden forms to help guide the mixture while pouring. After hardening, they stacked the blocks like brick. And more than 2,000 years later the Roman concrete structures are still standing tall.

The Present

Today, concrete & asphalt are one of the most commonly used materials in construction. Used for paving, building, waterproofing structures, and repair. The discovery of concrete & asphalt literally paved the way for our future, like highways, buildings, pools, patios, sidewalks, and airports.

The Future…

If you are looking for asphalt and concrete services for your modern day business & properties, you have hit the jackpot. Contact Concrete & Asphalt 4 Colorado so we can help with your history of asphalt and concrete.

Middle Ages of Asphalt & Concrete

Way back in the middle ages asphalt was used for something more than just roads. Europe used asphalt as an embalming material for the dead, water sealing roofs, & it was used as a bonding agent for multiple different purposes. In the 16th century they began to pave the streets of Venice, Italy.

Unfortunately for concrete, its technology began falling backwards in the middle ages. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the methodology for making pozzolan cement (the ‘godfather’ of concrete and is still used today in some concrete mixes) was lost until the re-discovery in 1414 which revived the interest in building with concrete.

The 17th, 18th, & 19th Century

This is when asphalt became as essential as it is today, where they used it for roads & highways. The first modern road was in Paris, built in 1852. But, this is where concrete made its big return in 1793 when John Smeaton discovered a method for producing hydraulic lime for cement. By using limestone containing clay that was fired until it turned into a clinker (used as the binder in cement products) which was then ground into a powder. This material was used in the rebuilding of the Eddystone Lighthouse in Cornwall England. 126 years later this structure failed due to erosion of the rock which it stood upon. In 1824, (finally) a man by the name of Joseph Aspdin invented Portland cement which is commonly used today.