- The Colosseum in Rome, Italy.
The Colosseum shows how durable masonry is even when left unattended for centuries. Completed over 2,000 years ago in AD 80 it contained 80 arched entrances which allowed 55,000 spectators into the amphitheater. Natural erosion has taken its toll, but the structure is still sound and recognizable, seeing millions of tourists per year and showing off the masonry skills the Romans had.
The famous gladiator battles were held here for the entertainment of the poor and the wealthy alike. Slaves, prisoners of war, and criminals (usually male, ocassionally female) entered the ring to fight. So many fights would happen in a day that eventually more sand would need to be placed on the floor to soak up the blood.
- The Taj Mahal in Agra, India.
Known as one of the wonders of the world, the Taj Mahal was crafted in soft white marble (using an interlocking arabesque concept) and detailed with various precious stones. It was crafted by masons in honor of Mumtaz Mahal in 1623 by the orders of Shah Jahan. The construction took 20,000 workers and 22 years. Mumtaz Mahal’s body rests in the Taj Mahal mausoleum today. Contained in the giant double dome structure is eight chambers representing the eight divisions of the Koran. The marble for the construction were carried from Makrana for 400 km. Bricks were made locally to use on the interior walls. The bricks facing outward are made of the soft white marble.
- The Pyramids in Ciaro, Egypt.
The earliest known examples of stone masonry are found in the pyramids in Egypt. As of 2008, 138 pyramids had been discovered, with estimates of up to 100,000 of workers used to construct each one. No one knows for sure how the structures were built, though there are many theories. Pyramids served as tombs for pharaos, queens, and other nobles. Often times, many servants are buried within to serve the pharaoh in the afterlife.
The most well-known pyramid is the Great Pyramid of Giza—the largest of the seven wonders of the world. Pyramids once had a cover of casting stone (Tura limestone found across the river), making the outer surface smooth and what is seen today is the core structure. 2.3 million Limestone blocks (likely from nearby quarries) make up the Great Pyramid, with 5.5 million tonnes of limestone, 8,000 tonnes of granite (from Aswan) and half a million tonnes of mortar.
Many works of masonry are still a mystery to modern man. This craft, this art, needs to live on. Masonry stands the test of time over and over again, leaving behind beautiful, mysterious, awe inspiring buildings we need to treasure and learn from.
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