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Marble and Granite in Architecture

Humans have managed to work with many substances in order to great beautiful, long-lasting monuments. This article is about some of the ways ancient cultures employed marble and granite to create some of the most amazing architecture the world has ever seen.

 Over the past several thousand years humans have managed to build great things out of various materials. In general, the poor have tended to build out of the most simple, economical, and practical materials, while the rich tend to exploit their status by building ostentatious monuments to their greatness. The materials used to build these great structures tend to be expensive, long-lasting, and beautiful. Marble and granite are often chosen because they fulfill all of these qualifications. It is rare that both are used because they fulfill similar building goals. Cultures and civilizations tend to pick a stone based on geographical and geological proximity.

Out of all of the cultures that have employed marble and granite, the Ancient Greeks are probably the most famous for building massive marble structures. The size of their marble architecture was without match for a long time in the ancient world, and the substance's quality has stood the test of time. Most of the famous Parthenon temple is still intact on the Athenian Acropolis. After two thousand years, it has not suffered the slightest weathering, the only damage to it has been caused by looters and an accidental explosion in the 17th century. The Greeks were masters of this type of architecture, and although they employed both marble and granite, they specialized in the former because they had more marble accessible in the surrounding areas. Their sculptors were masters of forming images of gods out of the beautiful stone, and many of these statues have survived in even better condition than the Parthenon.

By contrast, when having to choose between marble and granite, the Ancient Egyptians happily chose the latter. Again, this is likely because of the fact that there are so many granite reserves in Egypt even to this day. The Egyptians probably also liked granite because of its austere beauty and, like marble, its strength and longevity. The Ancient Egyptians were masters of mining and transporting absolutely massive blocks of solid granite, the likes of which would scare even the most technologically advanced modern construction company. While the famous Great Pyramid of Giz is not build entirely of granite, a great deal of it is used for the structure and many buildings in the nearby complex. This is part of the reason these buildings haves survived for such an incredibly long time – they are twice the age of the Parthenon.

Marble and granite are still used in architecture to this day, and their uses have since surpassed the achievements of the Ancient Greeks and Egyptians. That saidFree Articles, the longevity of the structures these civilizations have built are both a testament to human ingenuity and the integrity of the substances they used.  

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Dan Thaler is an undergrad history student at Ramapo College of New Jersey.

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