History of Clay Bricks May 17, 2021 – Posted in: Brick Tile Shop – Tags: , , ,

The use of unfired clay bricks used in the construction of dwellings can be dated back to about 7500 BC. Primitive people for thousands of years built their shelters with anything they could lay their hands on to try and protect them from the elements, like stone, rock, branches, palm tree leaves, mud, and clay.

Fired clay bricks can be called man-made rock as it has the same properties as a natural (primitive) rock. Fired clay bricks are formed from clay and then fired up to at least 1000° C. This process returns the weathered clay into the natural rock it was derived from. These bricks will again take a couple of million years to weather back into clay.

The Sumerians were the most advanced group of people in the ancient world and lived in Mesopotamia, a land between the Euphrates and Tigris rivers surrounded by dessert. They were intelligent and educated in that they were the pioneers in civilizing the world. They were the first civilization able to count in a decimal format. They were the first to “invent” the hour, 60 minutes, and 60 seconds, as well as dividing a circle into 360 deg.

Living in a huge desert, like most people of that time, there was little rock and stone available and houses were made from mud and clay mined from the river banks. Every year in the rainy season, the rivers will flood the flood plains and the houses’ walls would “melt” back to mud. About 2600 BC this problem was solved by firing the clay. The clay brick, as we know it today, 4600 years later, is still made in the same way. It must have been an incredible moment in evolution for that era where every chore had to be repeated daily, like hunting for food and putting up a shelter. After the discovery, the shelter problem was solved by not having to rebuild your house yearly. It was able to stand forever!

In Europe, where wood and timber were abundantly available, most people built their houses with wood. In 1666, the city of London burnt down completely, because of the narrow streets and the dry wood the houses were built from. After this disaster, London was rebuilt, but only stone and rock were allowed. Fired clay bricks were introduced because of the slow supply of stone and rock. At that time, the London town fathers made an extra income for the city by charging the people a levy on each brick they built with, much like the levy we pay on electricity today. Manufacturers then commenced making larger units to pay fewer levies. Bricks became too large to handle by hand and the product size reverted to the size we still use today.

Standard clay brick size – length 222mm width 106mm height 73mm

Why? – so that an average man can easily pick it up and handle it with one hand.

Built-in with mortar – 235 x 106 x 85mm.

Brick length is 2 x width and 3 x thickness – why? – so that you can build in a bond to ensure wall strength.

Clay Bricks were also the origin for the following: –

Standardization: The first item ever to be made in a mould and not just shaped by hand.

Production lines: standardizing articles to be the same in size, color and weight led to mass production.

Trademarking: Brickmakers were the first to mark each brick with their mark or name before it was fired. This system started when the Israelites were slaves in Egypt and each individual was forced to make a certain quantity of bricks every day. The only way to distinguish between different manufacturers was to count each slave’s daily production and they only counted bricks with names or marks on them.

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