The stone at the dawn of history

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The history of archituctures composed by stone material is attributable to the physical phenomenon of natural erosion, human art skills of the excavation and subsequent overlapping processed blocks.

Indeed In fact it is just one of the most spectacular natural phenomena which, over the centuries, formed those who call themselves real "pyramids of erosion", i.e. natural sculptures consist of isolated boulders placed even tens of meters from ground level. (Figure 1)

Even the natural caves are the result of patient work of water erode the stone structure. Michelangelo, careful recruiter of the stones that would create his masterpieces, said that matter itself created by nature was itself a work of art, to which he gave only a greater prominence.

One of the major applications of stone, since the beginning of human civilization, was to establish a safe haven through the caves.

The latter patient processing allowed preserving their structure and composition to the present day. Amazing examples of this process are the tombs of Petra in Jordan gifts, some Christian Coptic architecture in Africa (directly into the Rock-Hewn Churches) and other sites around the area of what is now the Middle East, where are the oldest examples of rock processing. (Figure 2).

The use of stone for residential purposes can be dated around 3500 a.C. circa, with circular-shaped dwellings of Nuraghi in Sardinia, they just overlay large blocks of stone to propose again the scheme of the caves, to ensure greater security from animal attacks and for a protection against atmospheric agents.

The beginning of the use of the stone as a building material also marked the transition to the final phase of the stone age, namely the Neolithic.

In this period the first stone works survived until our days are made as: dolmens, menhirs, stone circles and various huts made of masonry and shapeless stone. (Figure 3)

In the Neolithic period began to be created the first fortifications, which still nowadays represent stone's most spectacular achievements given the enormous size of the blocks used. The most famous and important examples of these are the Great Wall of China and pre-Columbian fortress city perched high in the Andes. (Figure 4)

Thanks to the construction of these wonderful and powerful structures, it is sufficient to mention the pyramids built in Egypt from the hard work of the slaves; the stone working has greatly suffered great innovations since the beginning of human history.

In the Egyptian pyramids it is seen for the first time a differentiated use of stone material. Here the structural part that composed the outer casing and the part constituent the lining were treated significantly different. In addition, the squaring and ingenious tools for regularization of the stone blocks are to be considered as significant steps forward.

An example of development of processing and honing technique can be observed inside the morgue of the Pharaoh Cheops, where the lines of granite ashlars that were laid up in dry, thanks to the perfect symmetry and squaring, are barely noticeable. (Figure 5)