In 1300 BC, Middle Easterners used a material very much like cement as a protective coating on their fortresses. They found that dampened, burned limestone had a chemical reaction with the natural gases in the air causing it to harden.
12 million years ago in what is now known as Israel, similar reactions between limestone and oil shale were used to produce comparable results.
In 6500 BC, concrete-like structures were built in Syria and Jordan; and by 700 BC – when it was discovered that hydraulic lime hardens underwater – kilns and underwater cisterns were added to the list.
Also, developing their own waterproof building materials, the Greeks and Romans created mortar-like cement from volcanic ash mixed with lime, sand and water. In fact, Rome’s Pantheon is topped with the largest un-reinforced cement dome ever built…and while we’re name dropping, the Great Wall of China is even a form of ancient cement.
Concrete is actually the composite building material created from ingredients including cement. The modern concrete that is used today is somewhat more refined, but one could argue that it was developed in 1756 when a British engineer combined pebbles, mixing bricks and hydraulic cement.
By the way, let’s give the United States some well-deserved kudos as well…The first concrete home was built in 1875 by an American mechanical engineer; the first concrete high-rise was erected in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1904; and the Hoover Dam was constructed from 3,250,000 yards of concrete in 1935!