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Natural Stone through the Ages


As old as the earth itself; made from the same gas and liquid that solidified to form the planet, natural stone brings style to a lot of architectural wonders from the dawn of civilization to the present day. From ancient structures, like the pyramids in Egypt and the regal magnificence of the Greek and Roman architecture, to the vast civilizations of India and China, and right through the Renaissance period, natural stone is now not just for the preserve of Royalty and the rich today. Well-liked like never before, natural stone remains the first option for a lot of homeowners and commercial businesses for its toughness, competitive pricing and aesthetic appeal.

A marvel in itself, natural stone tracks its origins to weighty minerals pushed deep to the core by the earth’s crust when gas and liquid cooled to form a solid core. When the crust grew thicker, bearing pressure upon the inner core, generated heat from mineral vapours crystallized into solid forms. As the earth’s crust began to grow and erode, it pushed minerals up from its core, forming massive rock deposits –the quarries we use today to mine natural stone like granite and marble. The entire journey took no less than 100 million years!

It was around 2500 B.C.

It was around 2500 B.C., though, that the Egyptians built the first known natural stone structures – the Pyramids – from granite and limestone. The famed Great Pyramid or Pyramid of Cheops was constructed using massive granite blocks. The later Temple of Dendur still glows wonderfully in the desert sun, its haunting exquisiteness accentuated by the sandstone it is built from.

Other civilizations soon followed

The Greeks are well-known for their wonderful Temple of Artemis, the giant marbled pillars of the Parthenon and their pools and baths, lined with marble; the Romans for colossal buildings like the elliptical Coliseum with its arches, and tiered seating for 50000 people, and the Pantheon pillared with Egyptian granite. And despite the dark ages, the use of natural stone continued through the medieval period to the Renaissance in structures like the Notre Dame in France and official residences through a lot of Europe.

Meanwhile, in India

Meanwhile, in India, artisans accessorized temples with complex stone carvings and fine sculptures that, amazingly, are still in one piece today. Soon enough, most kings and noblemen built palaces and opulent residences adorned with marble floors, pillars, ceilings, and decorated them with artefacts and marble inlays on furniture. The Taj Mahal, built entirely from marble and covered with jewels and gems, was the topmost glory of this period.

Back in the West

The Renaissance, and the innovation of enhanced methods of quarrying, brought advance and originality to the use of natural stone. Michelangelo fashioned sculptures from marble; ornate, decorative facades gained popularity. Until about a century ago, this style remained en vogue. Then, a shift in decoration styles resulted from changing cultural thought and industrial processes brought in a wave of functional design – it was no longer fashionable to be decorative.

New ways of thinking

Yet, the last ten years or so generated new ways of thinking. A new awareness of the environment – of using eco-friendly materials – brought architects to the drawing board again to find aesthetic, less costly, hard-wearing and environmentally friendly alternatives to man made materials. They accepted the admired demand for creating a exceptional interior, a decorative one yet again, but using materials that could create a homely feel to suit a lot of preferences. One they could use to create the warmth of an old country cottage or a palatial residence, or anything really, from a sleek singles apartment or a stylish family home to a period house or a zany open plan studio. What better place to start than natural stone? This time, major advances in technology aided them.

Furthermore, they found natural stone more adaptive. Obtainable in a big assortment of colours and patterns, natural stone is sensible and adds to the aesthetic value of every part of a home – from the roof, walls, flooring, furniture, even the garden and exterior walls. It transforms a four-walled house or apartment into a comfortable home, into warm colours, or a union of vibrant ones, infusing warmth and creating a relaxing atmosphere – creating a haven far from the strains and stresses of the up to date world.

For these very reasons, more people use natural stone today than ever before. After all, it has withstood the ravages of time over the last 4 billion years. Bearing in mind the fact that natural stone is as old as creation, as ancient as time and space as we know it, you cannot help but marvel at the attractiveness of its creation. Since the Egyptians first used granite and limestone nearly 5000 years ago, the use of natural stone, its quarrying, fabrication and technical testing have only enhanced and become more sophisticated over the millennia, making it an reasonably priced, attractive and possible alternative for most people.

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