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As Old as the Pharaohs!

How granite was used in the ancient world blog - modern day slab

Granite is the oldest igneous, natural stone on earth, and its first known usage harks back to

ancient Egypt. Historically, it began with its being used in the crudest from, with large blocks

of the stone being cut and shaped manually. It was a very labor-intensive activity, indeed.

Menkaure's Pyramid, most likely dating to the 26th Century BC, was constructed

of limestone and granite blocks. The Great Pyramid of Giza (c.2580 BC) contains a huge

sarcophagus of red granite from Aswan.

Historians have discovered uses of granite in Ancient Egypt that include columns, door

lintels, sills, jambs, and wall and floor veneer. Due to its natural, colored grain, granite was

also used in colorful paving of roads.

The Chola Dynasty of South India built the world's first temple entirely of granite in the 11th

century AD.

Up to the 4th Century AD, granite was widely used by the Romans in construction, especially

in wall-veneers and tunnels, aqueducts, and bridges, and more rarely, in artistic objects. It

was only during the Medieval Ages that granite waned in popularity, perhaps on account of

its difficulty to be carved into aesthetic objects.

It was during the 12 th Century that a man-made causeway of granite setts linked the island

of St. Michaels’ Mount to the Cornwall mainland, and is in use even today.

Set in stone

Victorian Britain put granite to use as a more practical alternative to marble, since the non-

corrosive properties and magnificent colors of this natural stone withstood the test of time,

and this soon became a symbol of social stature.

Dwelling further on the use of granite for construction, it has been extensively used as

a dimension stone and as flooring tiles in public and commercial buildings and

monuments. Aberdeen in Scotland, constructed principally from local granite, is known as

"The Granite City." Because of the abundance of this natural stone, granite was commonly

used to build foundations for homes in New England. A most unusual use of granite was in

the construction of the rails for the Haytor Granite Tramway, Devon, England, in 1820.

In more recent times, granite found favor in military engineering- Finland planted granite

boulders along its Mannerheim Line to deflect invasion by Russian tanks in 1940. Granite

boulders also come in handy for building retaining walls and dykes.

Rock of Ages

Mt Rushmore stands head and shoulders (excuse the pun) above all as an everlasting

granite monument to previous American Presidents. Even the Statue of Liberty is grounded

well and solid on its granite pedestal.

In some areas, granite is used for gravestones and memorials. Granite is a naturally

occurring hard stone and requires skill to carve by hand. Until the early 18th century,

granite could only be carved by hand tools and the results were often not very aesthetic,

and required the more advanced tools of modern times.

Closer to home, hearth, and business- tops for countertops

Being is one of the hardest materials on earth makes granite durable and it is available in a

wide array of colors and textures. It remains the top choice for counter tops, and is also

widely used for flooring and wall tiles. Because of its exceptional strength, granite is well

suited for exterior applications such as cladding, paving, and curbing, outperforming other

materials in maintenance, physical characteristics, and lifespan.

Polished granite is the number one choice for kitchen and bathroom countertops nowadays,

due to its high durability and myriad colors. The variety is endless, and it can be cut to suit

all kitchens, backsplashes, and any counter tops requiring a smooth, workable surface,

needing minimal maintenance. The myriad combinations of granite’s colored grain can be

chosen to complement any color-scheme.

Used widely in homes, bars, diners, and specialized table tops, granite can safely

incorporate cantilevers, free spans and overhangs, as part of almost every application.

In the kitchens and bathrooms, not only is it used for counter tops and vanities, but can be

adeptly customized to accommodate other installations, e.g. sinks and cooktops.

Did you know?

The town of Felicity, California, houses the Museum of History in Granite. This museum is a

contender for status as a World Heritage Site.

New Hampshire is known as ‘The Granite State’.

The stones used in the sport of ‘Curling’ are made from granite on account of their

durability, since the sport is played on ice, the smooth surface of granite facilitates the


Thus, what started as it being used for purely construction purposes, granite soon worked

itself by sheer dint of its highly-prized qualities into kitchens and bathrooms, and has

become a part of our everyday lives.


Nelson L. Nemerow (2009) Environmental Engineering: Environmental Health and Safety for

Municipal Infrastructure, Land Use and Planning, and Industry. John Wiley &