EMU Volume 20 – Chapter 4

Contribution of Mineralogy to Cultural Heritage

Chapter 4. The Vitruvian legacy: Mortars and binders before and after the Roman world

G. Artioli, M. Secco and A. Addis

A brief history of the nature, use and technology of binders in ancient constructions and buildings is outlined, including the apparent chronological discontinuities related to technological developments. The skilled and clever use of mineral resources is at the base of the technical achievements related to architectural activities, from simple adobe to high-performance modern concrete. It is argued that among pre-industrial binders the Roman pozzolanic mortars were highly optimized materials,skillfully preparedand very durable. Their innovative use in architecture is one of the keys of the successful expansion of the Roman Empire. The role of mineralogy and mineral reactions is emphasized in terms of: (1) the preparation and manufacturing of the binding materials; (2) the hardening process and the development of the physical properties of the binder; and (3) the archaeometric reconstruction of the ancient materials.

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