As promised in the last post, here we will continue looking at various less well known roofing techniques used throughout the world and across history. In the last post we covered three of the most ancient types of roofs and how they were adapted from available technologies and suited to versatile environments: wattle and daub, thatch, and clay tile. Here, as previously mentioned, we will continue to discuss ancient roofing techniques, perhaps less well known and widely spread than the three discussed in the last post.
Because in the end there are always some fundamental engineering concepts that must be utilized for basic construction techniques, many ancient methods are similar to one another to the extent that they can be interpreted as variations of the same basic concepts. For instance, across the world, different techniques existed comparable to wattle and daub with slightly differing components that changed with what was locally available. Pug and pine, mud and stud, pierrotage, columbage, bajarreque, and jacal are all examples of this. Pug and pine were used in the early days of colonization of South Australia. Timbers of a local tree, termed pine, were spaced out at regular intervals and the gaps sealed with pug, a clay and grass mixture. Mud and stud was a construction method once popular in parts of England and consisted of ash studs spaced out and connected by cross beams at the top and bottom. The structure was then daubed with mud, straw, hair, and dung.
Pierrotage and columbage were very similar construction techniques used in eighteenth century Louisiana and surrounding southern states. Pierrotage infilled half-timbering with diagonal braces with a mix of lime mortar clay and small stone aggregate. In the columbage technique, the mix is instead made of spanish moss or grass and clay. In the bajarreque technique, the dry and pulpy fibrous material left after crushing sugarcane or sorghum is used as the wattle and daubed with a mix of clay and straw. It was popular in geographic areas where those two plants are grown. Finally, jacal is a fairly basic construction technique, another variation on wattle and daub, used in the southwestern United States. Closely spaced sticks or poles are interwoven with small branches and covered in mud or adobe clay that is left to dry.
Perhaps the most ancient style of construction, mudbrick has been used across the world, starting in the middle east, for over ten thousand years. In mudbrick construction bricks are made of loam, mud, sand, and water and dried in the sun or (for about the last six thousand years) fired in a kiln. Rice husks or straw are mixed in as binding material before firing or baking. Mudbricks were used for the entirety of a dwelling or other edifice, just as most of the wattle and daub style methods mentioned above. Mudbrick in areas of Spanish influence is called adobe and is often associated with areas once colonized by Spain in the Western hemisphere. Mudbrick or adobe is used to build exterior and interior walls as well as flat roofs. In many regions where this style of construction was utilized in the past (and sometimes in the present as well) flat roofs were very convenient for use as sleeping areas during the hot months of the year when interior air conditioning was not yet invented or not easily available as the interior would have been too hot.
Quincha is another variation on the above discussed methods. It is a traditional construction method in areas of South America and the name is a word borrowed from the language of the Inca. In quincha, wood, cane, or giant reed is used to construct a stable, earthquake proof framework structure which is then covered with mud and plaster. Quincha is very versatile in the shapes that it can be used to create, from modest dwellings to spiraled cathedrals. As you can see, ancient roofing techniques are fundamentally similar but vary very widely based on local material availability and environmental hazards and requirements.
If you have any questions about roofs, we would be happy to help you out. Florida’s Best Roofing, Inc. is a fully licensed (CCC 1325974) and insured, local roofing contractor with decades of experience. If you are interested in roof replacement or repair and you are in the Palm Coast, Flagler, or Volusia area, please give us a call at 386-263-7906 for a free estimate!