Humans have invented amazing things, but some inventions are so ubiquitous that we overlook them. Today I am focussing my attention on one invention that owes everything to the ingenuity and industry of ancient civilizations. I am thinking about bricks. Ordinary, everyday, bricks. They have been around since 7000 BC and we have had fired bricks since 3500 BC.
I find red brick buildings particularly attractive, and today I learned that in Victorian England red bricks became popular because red brick buildings were easier to see in the fog than were lighter colored bricks and stones. That makes perfect sense to me.
There are regulations that govern the size, shape, and weight of a brick but no doubt the standard brick evolved from generations of bricklayers figuring out what were the most practical dimensions to handle repeatedly and to be able to lift in useful quantities. That, in itself is a fascinating development. They worked out the optimal unit measurements to create enormous buildings using only manual labor.
They didn’t only design the perfect unit for building, they also found ways to make their collective uses pleasing to the eye. Thank you brickmakers and bricklayers everywhere.