Civil engineering can be said to be the oldest branch of engineering. It deals with the design, construction and maintenance of structures like buildings, roads, dams and bridges, and thus dates back to prehistory. Over the millennia, civil engineers have built some truly impressive structures – some of which have lasted for centuries or even longer. Consider the following examples:
Great Wall of China
At 5,000 km (3107 miles), the Great Wall of China is the longest man-made structure in the world. The sections of the wall have an average thickness of 15 feet and their height ranges from 16 to 33 feet. The Emperor Qin Shi Huang (260–210 BC) began constructing the Wall to keep out the invading Yayun tribe. Later Emperors continued building the Wall and added thousands of watchtowers. The Wall is built from stone, brick, wood, and compacted earth.
Located in Central Java in Indonesia, Borobudur is the largest Buddhist temple in the world. It was built during the 8th and 9th centuries. The temple was built in three tiers that reflect Buddhist cosmology which holds the universe is composed of three superimposed spheres: desires, form, and formlessness. The three tiers consist of a pyramidal base with square terraces, a conical trunk with three round platforms, and a stupa or shrine at the top.
The Colosseum is arguably the most famous and impressive example of Roman architecture. Emperor Vespasian commissioned it in 70 AD, and the construction was completed ten years later during the reign of his son Titus. The largest amphitheater in the world, the Colosseum was originally a site for gladiatorial fights. It could hold 50,000 to 80,000 spectators.
Now a national park in Guatemala, Tikal was originally a Mayan city. It was inhabited from the 6th century BC to the 10th century AD. During that time, it was an important center of Mayan culture, politics, and trade. Archeologists have so far found temples, palaces, houses, roads, ball-game, courts and courtyards. Studying the site has allowed researchers to study the Mayans’ evolution from a tribe of hunter-gatherers to a sophisticated and powerful culture.
Great Pyramid of Giza
The Great Pyramid of Giza is the only one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World that still exists. A tomb for the pharaoh Khufu, it was constructed from 2560 BC to 2540 BC. When completed, it stood 146.5 meters (480.6 feet) high and was thus the world’s tallest building for over 3,800 years. Archaeologists believe the Egyptians used 2.3 million stone blocks and 500,000 metric tons (551,156 US tons) of mortar to construct the pyramid.
Of course, in order to truly appreciate the magnificent architecture of these wonderful structures, you should visit them yourself. Both tourists and engineering students alike can benefit from a tour of such structures. A look at how humankind has constructed things throughout the ages gives us an idea of how bright the future may be!
About the Author
Dixie Somers is a freelance writer and blogger for business, home, and family niches. Dixie lives in Phoenix, Arizona, and is the proud mother of three beautiful girls and wife to a wonderful husband. Click here for additional information Dixie got about engineering in this piece.