Construction through the ages


March, 2017


It’s easy to forget all the advances we as a society have made in the construction world. We often take for granted all the comforts we live with every single day. It’s interesting to take a step back and remind ourselves of what used to be.

Stone Age

Even before people started working with wood, they were still making things in the neolithic era. Also known as the stone age, people in this era relied heavily on tools that were made from natural materials. For example, they used things like stone, bark, bamboo, and mammoth ribs. Many stone age structures that have been discovered around the world were very tent-like. In addition, there were also homes made out of clay blocks and stones. In areas where hunting mammoths was common, the people used mammoth bones to build huts.

Copper and Bronze Ages

Next, the copper and bronze ages have a timeline that intertwines. During this period, copper and bronze replaced stone in most tools. Stone became obsolete because copper and bronze were more durable and more efficient at cutting. Also, the copper age saw the birth of a new tool, the saw. Interestingly, the bronze age brought with it the corbelled arch which was primarily used for tombs. Plus, the wheel was invented although it was not very popular at the time.


Iron Age

During this time, was the rise in iron and steel tools. Iron was used for a very long time before the iron age. However, the ability to smelt iron ore enabled iron to be mass produced. In addition, the quality of tools greatly increased. Large scale buildings were more common and made out of mud and brick. Also, people were using paper and began mailing letters and documents to each other.


With medieval times came an abundance of buildings. The most abundant construction projects during this time were cathedrals, castles, and forts. Additionally, materials that were popular were brick and wood. Craftsmen of all different trades passed on their skills to apprentices. Also, in the medieval times, people started experimenting with different styles of buildings. For example, there were vaults, flying buttresses, and gothic arches.


In the renaissance period, studying architecture became highly respected. Therefore, there was an increase in the quality of buildings as well as their beauty. Unlike the medieval period, the architect did not construct any buildings during the renaissance, they made the plans for them. Then, craftsmen and their apprentices would take the plans and do the building. One breakthrough in the construction world was the use of domes.

17th Century

There were many new discoveries and breakthroughs during the 17th century. First, was the ability to manufacture glass. Also, modern science was born which directly affected building construction. Although flying scaffolds and cranes came from previous centuries, they were used quite often. People of the 17th century took old ideas and began building on them and improving them.

18th Century

In the 18th century, past methods and tools continued to get improved upon. The amount of construction projects significantly increased. Plus, architects and engineers become well known for their work. As a result, cities continued to grow at a rapid pace. The use of iron grew as well, with many buildings incorporating cast iron when they needed to be fireproof.

19th Century

The beginning of the industrial revolution brought with it a plethora of transportation projects. For instance, the construction of roads, canals, and especially railways. Steel was mass produced starting in the mid-19th century and lead to reinforced concrete and I-beams. Also, glass was being produced in large quantities and was no longer seen as a luxury. Thankfully, building codes were put into place as people were more aware of the need for fire safety. Last but definitely not least, plumbing was implemented.

20th Century

The 20th century is well known for the start of the big city look. This was the era of high-rise buildings and skyscrapers, made possible by the use of large cranes and elevators. The amount of workers needed for construction projects decreased due to power tools and heavy equipment. But, the formation of unions protected the interests of construction workers. People began wearing protective gear like hard hats while working. Towards the end of the 20th century, a great importance in construction was energy conservation.

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