The history of waterproofing is a very interesting topic. The need to waterproof structures was evident in ancient times. Although there is a little documentation on the subject. The ancient Romans understood the need to waterproof their ground structures by building walls so thick that it was practically impossible for water to penetrate them. In early Egypt, a mixture of clay and straw was used for waterproofing. There were also the first traces of a bitumen and resin mixture found. Also, the ancient Egyptians used asphalt to waterproof the foundations of the pyramids and in other situations on buildings to prevent the penetration of water.
Asphaltum has had many other uses throughout history as well as waterproofing. Containers used for transporting goods were made of a bed of straw or sand. They were then sealed with bitumen on the inside. With bitumen’s inert characteristics it conserved the contents of the containers.
Breakthrough In History Of Waterproofing
Probably one of the biggest breakthroughs in waterproofing was the use of bituminous mastic combined with baked clay.
The Medieval era did not bring any new or innovative products to the waterproofing story. Around the 13th century there was the return of the use of lime for waterproofing. In this period, castles built for the purpose of defending an area either sat on hills or had channels or moats around them filled with water often lined with lead or with a glued asphalt.
Most Famous Waterproofing Project
Possibly the most famous and best-known waterproofing project was that of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. One of the seven wonders of the ancient world. The Hanging Gardens, comprised of terraces rising over 25 metres from a colonnade superstructure, was commissioned by King Nebuchadnezzar. Additionally, the waterproofing consisted of bitumen and lead.
Written by Paul Koning, 2006.