Cataloger’s Shelf: The History of Concrete

While it may sound dull, trust me, it’s not. Concrete has had a long and lively history with an interesting set of characters, which I recently discovered while cataloging two new library books on the subject.


The technology of concrete manufacturing was lost and re-discovered several times. After the fall of the Roman Empire, it was lost for over a millennium. People like Herod the Great, Roman Emperor Hadrian, Thomas Edison, and Frank Lloyd Wright all played a part in its story. (Courland 22-23)

Guggenheim Museum

Today, modern concrete (which differs from the kind manufactured during the Roman Empire) is widely used for buildings and infrastructure, but it’s a major contributor to global warming.

And the books are…

Concrete: A Seven-Thousand-Year History / by Reese Palley (2010) – An illustrated history.

Concrete Planet: The Strange and Fascinating Story of the World’s Most Common Man-Made Material / by Robert Courland (2011)

Sydney Opera House

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