What Was Concrete Used for in Ancient Times?

Concrete is a ubiquitous material in our modern world, used for everything from buildings and bridges to roads and sidewalks. But did you know that concrete has been used for thousands of years? In fact, ancient civilizations such as the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans all made use of concrete in their architecture.

What is Concrete?

Before we dive into the history of concrete, let’s define what exactly it is. Concrete is a mixture of cement, water, and aggregates such as sand or gravel. The cement acts as a binding agent that holds everything together, while the water reacts with the cement to create a hard, durable material.

Ancient Egyptian Concrete

One of the earliest known uses of concrete comes from ancient Egypt. The Egyptians used a form of concrete made from mud mixed with straw to build their homes and other structures. This type of concrete was not particularly strong or durable but was easy to work with and readily available.

Ancient Greek Concrete

The Greeks also made use of concrete in their architecture, but they took it to the next level by experimenting with different mixtures to create stronger materials. One such mixture included volcanic ash from Mount Vesuvius, which they used to create underwater structures such as harbors.

Roman Concrete

However, it was the Romans who truly revolutionized the use of concrete in ancient times. They developed a formula for concrete that included not only cement and water but also volcanic ash and rocks known as pozzolana. This mixture was incredibly strong and durable, allowing the Romans to build massive structures such as aqueducts and coliseums.

  • The Pantheon in Rome is one of the most impressive examples of Roman concrete construction.
  • It features a massive domed roof that spans 43 meters without any internal support.
  • The dome is made up of several layers of concrete, each with a slightly different mixture to provide strength and durability.


In conclusion, concrete has been used for thousands of years by various civilizations for a variety of purposes. While the materials and mixtures used may have varied, the basic principles behind concrete remain the same: a binding agent mixed with aggregates and water to create a strong, durable material. It’s fascinating to see how ancient civilizations were able to create impressive structures using this simple yet versatile material.