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  • About Brick - History of Bricks ?

THE FIRST HUMAN MAKE STRUCTURE MATERIAL: BRICK

It wouldn’t be wrong to define brick as “the first produced structure material in the history of earth”. Most historians agree on the thesis.

It is a known fact that the first settlement areas and cultures are located around large river basins where the alluvium soils available for brick production. The beginning of brick art falls around the same period. These areas are the lower Nile, Euprates/Tigris rivers in Mesopotamia. The excavation studies in the area shows that the oldest findings are the molded clay tablets and wall reliefs. This justifies that brick production has started in this period, and even then, temples, the richest structures are constructed of these brick tablets. These non-sintered clay tablets have similar dimensions with today’s bricks, and were hand-shaped. Carbon 14 tests performed on these clay tablets (bricks) indicate B.C. 13.000 year. We can say that the first brick was made in human hands about 15.000 years before. However, the bricks used at that time were not sintered. They were sun-dried mud blocks. They were similar materials with today’s adobe bricks.

Desire to resist against environmental conditions has forced human being to new quests. Thus the meeting of clay with water and reaction with fire has led to sintered bricks. Invention of fire has been an important milestone in the history of humanity. The hardening reaction of clay around the set fire might be the introduction of “sintered soil” centuries ago. Human being has used “sintered clay” for bowl/plate needs first, and made serious progress. They have attributed their observances and experiences here to the non-sintered bricks, and the “brick” product was obtained.


BRICK INDUSTRY MILESTONE: BABEL

Tuğla BabilAfter a while, people wanted to construct stronger buildings and higher towers. Of course, they would be better looking buildings, as well. That is when sintered brick use has become more important. Brick is a stronger structure material along with the warm and bright color. The time is B.C. 4th Century.

BABEL, one of the 7 wonders is a place with many firsts. The wonderful ”Babel tower” in Babel is considered to be the first structure with use of sintered brick systematically and properly. It is the mutual pride of all historians and Brick Industrialists. This pride is for the brick itself. It is a structure material that defied the years.
Between the years of 1877-1917, German Archeologist Robert KOLDWEY has found bricks with smooth shape, sharp edged, professionally produced bricks similar to today’s bricks during excavation studies in Babel.
And these bricks still remain in form. Bricks still maintaining their form in Babel deeply effects the views on the matter. This material clearly justifies to be a long life structural material.


TuğlaBricks were used both as structure material and a form of art in this period. The most dramatic example is the “Ishtar gate” of Babel. The gate has 575 bull and dragon figures for the gods believed to be the keepers of the city, and this gate can be seen at Berlin museum in Germany. This tremendous structure is one of the most beautiful example for the brick art in the world.
One of the reasons making Babel Tower an important symbol for brick industry is being the first high capacity production plant. Per calculations, 85 million bricks were used for the construction of this tower. This is a very serious number. His amount is equal to the annual production of 5-6 medium size plants today. This production is made using “on-site production” method. In other means, they were manufactured at some location close to Babel Tower, and carried to the construction site.

BRICK’S IMPROVEMENT
After this period, we see that the brick production has spread to Anatolia and Europe, and become popular. Brick and brick production in Mesopotamia by Assyrians, Persians, Sassanian and Islam Cultures have been improved to higher levels. Eastern and Western cultures have developed together, and brick has been the indispensable structure material.

Greek author Pindar has stated that Greeks found marble in B.C. 5th century and used for sculpturing and construction. Greeks have used marble in constructions as wall material but soon it was found to be unfeasible, and implemented brick use again.


Tuğla Çin SeddiChina Wall “the biggest man made structure” has an interesting story on brick. Built in B.C. 9th century to protect Midland China Kingdoms from the attacks of ethnical groups in North, extending approximately 6400 km. No—sintered clay tablets were used at early construction stages. Although it was a robust material, it did not last too many years against tough environmental conditions, and damages occurred at some locations. Chinese engineers of the time had to find a new material, and tried sintering clay tablets inspiring by the pottery works. The achieved a material with great endurance at 800-900 temperature degrees. Sintered Brick Ever since then, 3 billion bricks used in China Wall are standing still against the savage nature.

BIRTH OF BRICK
Roof material need arose by the use of sintered brick. This need was fulfilled by the invention of concave tiles by Corinthians.
Corinthians invented tiles similar to today’s round roof tiles. The only difference was they were a little thicker and bigger. He studies showed that the first tiles were 2-3 cm thick, 50 cm width and 80-100 cm in length. Greeks improved the tile, and Romans took it over. Romans in Western Europe have developed and improved the Greek tile forms. We can say they have achieved almost today’s production quality on round tiles.
The first standards on brick and tile were developed and applied by Romans. They have tried to solve drying and cooking problems due to thickness, thus the first research activities were initiated by them. At the end of these studies, they have developed thinner but more robust materials. It is the Romans that introduced tile to the Spanish, English, Belgium and German, spreading the use of tiles all over in Europe. Romans created tremendous works in houses, baths and arches using tiles. These art works lasting so many years proves the brick-tile production levels achieved by Romans. Roman legionnaires working in construction works were producing 120-140 large size, 220-240 small size of bricks daily.
Brick has gone beyond being a product manufactured as structure material only but was also produced for sales in time, and they were even transported up to 100 km distances by sea and river transportation. Again, this was achieved by Romans. It is the Roman that brought Brick and Tile to an industry level.

BRICK AND TILE IN ANATOLIA
When we look at Anatolia, we can see the developments and improvements were parallel to the above developments. History books state that the production and use of first Sintered Bricks in Anatolia was initiated by the Lydian in B.C. 4th century. This falls in more or less the same period with the construction of Babel tower. The bricks on Sardis walls, capital of Lydia, are the very “first bricks used systematically in Anatolia”.
Brick and tile were improved by contributions of Byzantines in Anatolia after the Greek. Seljukians took over the improvements from Byzantines. Seljukians also made so many improvements in the field. There is an important architectural use of brick and stone together in Seljukian architecture. After this point of time, there is a transition to Ottoman period, and there has also been an important improvements on brick and tile technology in this period. Small and concave Ottoman Tiles are produced in this period. The first standards for Brick and Tile in Anatolia were set during Ottoman period. Fatih Sultan Mehmet period bricks were in 4.5 x 28 x 28 cm dimensions, but the bricks used for beams were thinner. Base tiles were 25 x 25 cm, square shape or the hexagonal shapes with diameters between 30 – 60 cm. He bricks out of these standards were not allowed for use in constructions or even for sales.


LONDON FIRE AND BRICK
Tuğla Londra YangınıWhen we look at the history of brick, we can see the London fire dated September 2, 1666 has been a milestone. The fire had spread all over the city, however some districts did not burn or had minor damages only. Bricks were used in these districts. Non-flammable” feature of brick had saved some parts of the city. After this date, a “Regulation for use of bricks” has been set. Bricks were used more often for the construction of houses after this unlucky incident. Increase in use of bricks lead the use of this material in other structures. Many big structures such as towers, viaducts were constructed. It is important that the viaducts constructed in those times are still in use with a traffic of tons of loads.


Tuğla RönesansBRICK IN RENAISSANCE
With the improving industry after renaissance, this industry field started developing, and first steam operated machinery, then electrical engine operated machineries were used in production. Standardization studies and reducing workmanship has been the preliminary plan in brick and tile industry just like any other industry field. Today, the latest technologies are used for Brick and Tile production. These two materials continue to be indispensable materials of the 21st century.