The Origins Of Retaining Walls

9 Aug

Retaining walls are a familiar sight in our modern world. With the advent of easily accessible concrete construction, retaining walls that create habitable and arable land has become commonplace. However the engineering of retaining walls is an ancient practice. Through my research I have found the earliest mention of Retaining walls being employed was by the Egyptians. In this article I will investigate the earliest origins of retaining wall technology.

Ancient Retaining Walls.

The Origins1The Nile River was the lifeblood of ancient Egypt. The civilization rose and fell on its monsoonal tides, which brought rich silts for farming down river. But this powerful waterway was known to rise too high for the Egyptian people 7,000 years ago. Thus they would prepare simple ‘Gabion’ style baskets from reeds, that could be filled with soil and rocks to shore up a failing bank; nudging the flow of the mighty Nile where it would benefit these ancient people the most.

Gabion technology, whilst ancient, is a relatively modern term. It comes from the Italian Gabbione or big cage, and has its roots in Latin, from the word Cavea meaning cage. Gabion blocks are commonly used today when swift construction of earth works, retaining walls and even military emplacements are required. The salient factor in making modern steel Gabion cages so effective is that they can be collapsed and carried with ease and once an emplacement is required they are simply formed into shape and filled with rocks and soil. Thus making them an excellent tool for dealing with flash flooding, just as the Ancient Egyptians did thousands of years ago.

Walls of Ancient Stone

In a paper released by the British Museum author Angela La Loggia investigated the construction of temples and tombs at the ancient sites of Saqqara and Helwan in Egypt. The focus of the paper was to compare the construction methods of the ancients against modern engineering principles to determine how well those structures were designed.

The Origins3There were seventeen tombs at Saqqara, with another twenty-five at Helwan and the tombs were all constructed to a similar blue print. The paper focussed on the construction and longevity of three main sections; the roof, the freestanding walls that compartmentalised the structure and the retaining walls that were used to support the excavated pit of the substructure and magazine walls.

There were eight tombs that had retaining walls at Saqqara and thirteen at Helwan. All the remaining tombs had their substructure carved from the rock strata therefore did not require the additional support of a retaining wall.

Of all of the tombs that had retaining walls supporting an inner substructure or providing support to the magazine walls, only one was found to have not survived the test of time. Rubble was piled around it to support the structure as the load bearing stone facing had crumbled and required shoring up. Many of the retaining walls had buttress load bearing walls to support the entire structure.

This clearly demonstrates that the ancient Egyptians had a thorough understanding of the load bearing structures and how to fortify a wall and that the Ancient Egyptian engineering was certainly of a modern standard.

For all of your Local retaining walls Brisbane or Landscaping Please contact

Jamie Grant

Blogged In.

13 Apr

Not long ago I entered a mini tirade on the subject of blogs with writing companions in response to this blog:Image

The article in part lionizes Lady Gaga and her Blog, and by extension her behavior. We see a screen shot to demonstrate her preeminent social media networking powers. A large caption strikes at us “Jerry Seinfeld says he hates Lady Gaga!” and then proceeds to vomit on about turning negative spin into social media capitol.

I like Jerry Seinfeld. When I look at him I see a guy who does what he loves but in an unassuming way. He doesn’t jump all over media outlets in a sequined bra to get a few likes. But he does say some very pertinent things, like when he was interviewed by Andrew Denton on Enough Rope about speaking with school kids about his three rules of life:

“I just sat down with a pad and paper and I thought – well what are my three rules of life? And I came up with bust your ass, pay attention and fall in love. And so I talked to the kids about these are the three things you need to know to succeed in life.

Bust your ass is a just basically whatever you do just kill yourself. Work as hard as you can… only good can come of it.

Pay attention is just, people just don’t notice enough about what’s going on around them and you can absorb and learn from everything around you all the time, you know, ask people questions all the time.

And fall in love… isn’t really a romantic love … like if I get a really good cup of coffee I like to just go, you know what, just hang on a second, ‘This is a fantastic cup of coffee!!’ And I’ll ask everyone, ‘Isn’t this great coffee?’ … you will enjoy life more if you do that.”

And on Lady Gaga:

“I’m not one of these all-publicity-is-good people. People talk about you need exposure — you could die of exposure. She is talented. I don’t know why she’s doing this stuff.”

I don’t know why either, nor do I want to emulate her as is suggested By Michael.

The problem is that it is all too easy to dismiss all blogging on the surmise of it all being just media whoring. It’s not, and I know that. There are interesting and erudite musings on any number of subjects. The difficulty is discerning between that which has value and that which does not. Because of the periodical nature of blogs some posts are gold, some merde.

It has been easy for me to dismiss blogging in entirety due to volume. By distinction there will always be more dross than gold and due to the overwhelming volume of words that get sprayed around the internet much of that volume is simply noise. But through the cacophony lies strains of pure thought, notes of knowledge, golden insights on the world. And so often they are simple, things we deeply know, but when they are spoken by someone living the truth of those words gain resonance and substance. We know them as words truly spoken. Work hard, pay attention, fall in love. So simple, it might be easy to miss.

I sat down to write my first Blog post, because that is what I need to do next, that is part of my work. I want my secret dream that I am able to help folk with my words to come true. I have to get those words out there. Some will be dross, some will be good. There will be grammar errors and typos, I will look back and wonder why I wrote certain things, and I will learn and work and grow.

So here is my little bit of shameless self promotion.

Links to my first few articles

Thanks for reading.