The Romans were also big fans of barrel vaults, and they utilized concrete to create them all throughout Europe and North Africa. The Roman word for "concrete" is "caementum". Caementum was used in many forms: liquid caementum was poured into wooden frames and allowed to set, solid caementum was mixed with sand and gravel and used as roadbed material.
In Europe, barrel vaults were made from wood, but the Romans used concrete instead. They did this by mixing lime (the ingredient that makes up a large portion of cement) with water and allowing the mixture to harden into a strong, flexible material. Like most things the Romans built, their vaultings were not only impressive but they could also be found everywhere from town centers to military camps. Some that can be seen today remain intact after thousands of years because they were well-maintained over time. Others have been preserved through luck or history; for example, some Roman buildings in Germany were burned during World War II.
There are two types of barrel vaults: round and polygonal. Round barrel vaults are created when wooden beams are placed perpendicular across the floor and then more beams are laid across these first ones. The structure is then filled with more wood and sealed with tar.
Barrel vaults date back to Ancient Egypt and were widely employed in Roman building. They were also utilized to replace the Cloaca Maxima with an underground sewage system. The term "barrel vault" comes from the shape of the arches that formed the roof.
How do barrel vaults differ from other types of roofs? While most other roof shapes are based on a single geometric form (such as a pyramid or a dome), barrel vaults are made up of many different curved segments. Each segment is shaped like a hoop with the diameter of the hoop corresponding to the height of the vault above it. The number of hoops varies according to the size of the vault. There may be several pairs of hoops for small vaults or one large pair of hoops for larger ones.
Because they're made up of so many different pieces, barrel vaults can be constructed of very heavy material without being weak and flimsy like some other roof forms. They're often made out of metal because they provide good protection from the elements but still allow light to get inside the building. Wooden barrel vaults were also used extensively in ancient times.
Barrel vaults were popular in Roman building because they provided good protection from the weather while not being too heavy duty to damage other parts of the building.
Who constructed the first barrel vaults? The first barrel vaults were modest ones used by builders in Mesopotamia for minor drainage tunnels and tombs. At Susa, the Elamites utilized larger barrel vaults to cover structures. By 2600 BC, Egyptian builders were using mud-brick barrel vaults. They also used wood as a material for construction.
In Europe, early civilizations such as those of Mesopotamia and Egypt built many large structures using simple wooden frames covered with thick layers of clay. These early vaults were easy to make but very weak. As building techniques improved, so did the strength of vaults. By the 11th century AD, European builders had developed strong concrete vaults that remain popular today. Concrete vaults are much stronger than their ancient counterparts because they use iron rods as reinforcement instead of wattle and daub, which are bundles of sticks or bones mixed with clay and water and then pressed into shape.
Barrel vaults have been used throughout history for buildings as diverse as churches and casinos. In fact, you can still visit a barrel vault in England today at Alnwick Castle. This 12th-century castle is one of the most beautiful buildings in North America and it's worth visiting even if you don't stay the night. The castle walls are about 18 feet high and there are more than 100 rooms inside; however, only 15 of them have been converted into guest rooms.