The History of Natural Stone Flooring
By D.C. Bhandari
For millions of years, a combination of heat and pressure created blocks of natural stone, including granite, marble, travertine, limestone, and slate. As the earth’s crust began to grow and erode, it pushed minerals up from its core, forming massive rock deposits, which we refer to as “quarries”.
During the Roman Empire (27 BC to AD 476) engineers found another advantage of stone floors – heating. They built a small basement with pillars under the floor to support large stone squares. A vent was created at one end of the basement, and a fire was started under the opposite end.
Stone construction was first developed in India & Egypt over 5000 years ago, with the building of palaces and monuments and Mohan jodro, Hadapa using large bricks of mountain-cut material. Today, the pyramids at Giza have some of the oldest examples of natural stone flooring in the world, proving the long-term resilience of these surface coverings.
Natural stone flooring
The use of stone in flooring continued to develop over time, and there is evidence that the Greeks were creating pebble mosaic floors as early as 3000 years ago. These were made by placing hundreds of small, rounded stones into a mortar bed to form an image. As this flooring material evolved, the pebbles were replaced by flat pieces of colorful stone tile.
Natural stone flooring his try
Bhandari marble group
There are other examples of natural stone materials being used across the ancient world. The Indian marble as a flooring material for its translucent abilities, particularly with light-colored stone that seemed to glow in the sunlight. The royal families of the Mughals & Carthaginian Empire had a special Indian & Turkish marble that they used to build all of their palaces as a symbol of prestige.
Makrana & Roman Marble Stone Floors
During the Mughal & Roman Empire, the art of natural stone flooring reached new heights of innovation. Masterful Roman architects were able to design a series of floors that were actually heated from below; these were the first below-surface radiant heating systems.
This process made use of large tiles propped up on joists so that a gap was created beneath the surface of the floor. A furnace was placed at one end of this gap and, while a vent was placed at the other end. The heat from the burning furnace was drawn across the bottom of the floor toward the vent, warming the tile above. These heated floors were used in the homes of the wealthy throughout the life of the empire.
After the fall of Rome, the art of making intricate stone and mosaic flooring was largely lost to Western Europe. While these skills would be preserved to some extent in Byzantium and through the Islamic world, European use of stone flooring was often relegated to scavenging pieces of material from old monuments and palaces that had fallen into.
Natural stone mosaics
It is often used in decorative art or as interior decoration. Most mosaics are made of small, flat, roughly square, pieces of stone or glass of different colors, known as tesserae. Some, especially floor mosaics, are made of small rounded pieces of stone, and called “pebble mosaics.