The World's Oldest Roofing Materials

July 16 2020 0comment

The World's Oldest Roofing Materials

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The world uses various different materials when building roofs, however some have lasted longer than others. Today, we are going to have a look at some of the first roofing materials used by man, and why they were used.



A classic roof material here in England, thatched roofs conjure up the image of comfy countryside cottages and pleasant trips to the countryside. Thatched roofs are not unique to Europe however - they are particularly common in equatorial countries across Africa and the pacific. In the Indonesian island of Bali, ijuk leaves are used to create thatched roofs for temple buildings. Thatched roofs are commonly used because they are waterproof, granting houses a steady defense against the weather. If bundled tightly enough, thatching can also repel sleet and snow.



Stone roofing typically refers to the use of stone tiles. Stone tiles vary in type, though the most popular is typically slate, used to a great extent by the Roman Empire. While Roman architecture made great use of marble and fired clay bricks, they often covered working class homes in slate. Another ancient civilisation which made great use of stone roofing was the Ancient Egyptians. In the case of the Ancient Egyptians, they covered roofs with stone bricks rather than tiles, and due to the great variety of precious minerals in their empire, they would use a broad range of gemstones and expensive metals to decorate their buildings. Perhaps the greatest examples of stone roofing in Egypt were the Great Pyramids of Giza, which required 5 million stone bricks to build. 



Clay tiles are another common roofing material employed by the Roman Empire which are still widely used today. Clay tiles became mandatory in London in the 1100s as King John passed a law to prevent the spread of fire by limiting the use of thatched roofs. However, clay was used for far more than just tiles in ancient roofing. In India and the Middle East, hand-baked blocks of clay were used to build whole houses and temples, as they were strong and easy to build. These bricks would then be covered in plaster and painted.

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