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New, unlaid mudbricks in the Jordan Valley, West Bank (2011) Mudbricks in Palestine 2011.jpg
New, unlaid mudbricks in the Jordan Valley, West Bank (2011)
Mudbrick was used for the construction of Elamite ziggurats--some of the world's largest and oldest constructions. Choqa Zanbil, a 13th-century BC ziggurat in Iran, is similarly constructed from clay bricks combined with burnt bricks. Choghazanbil2.jpg
Mudbrick was used for the construction of Elamite ziggurats—some of the world's largest and oldest constructions. Choqa Zanbil , a 13th-century BC ziggurat in Iran, is similarly constructed from clay bricks combined with burnt bricks.

A mudbrick or mud-brick is an air-dried brick, made of a mixture of loam, mud, sand and water mixed with a binding material such as rice husks or straw. Mudbricks are known from 9000 BCE, though since 4000 BC, bricks have also been fired, to increase their strength and durability.


In warm regions with very little timber available to fuel a kiln, bricks were generally sun-dried. In some cases, brickmakers extended the life of mud bricks by putting fired bricks on top or covering them with stucco.

Ancient world

Mud-brick stamped with seal impression of raised relief of the Treasury of the Vizier. From Lahun, Fayum, Egypt. 12th Dynasty. The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, London Mud-brick stamped with seal impression of raised relief of the Treasury of the Vizier. From Lahun, Fayum, Egypt. 12th Dynasty. The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, London.jpg
Mud-brick stamped with seal impression of raised relief of the Treasury of the Vizier. From Lahun, Fayum, Egypt. 12th Dynasty. The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, London

The history of mudbrick production and construction in the southern Levant may be dated as far back to the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (e.g., PPNA Jericho). [2] These sun dried mudbricks, also known as adobe or just mudbrick, were made from a mixture of sand, clay, water and frequently temper (e.g. chopped straw and chaff branches), and were the most common method/material for constructing earthen buildings throughout the ancient Near East for millennia. [2] [3] [4] Unfired mud-brick is still made throughout the world today, using both modern and traditional methods. [5] [6]

The 9000 BCE dwellings of Jericho, were constructed from mudbricks, [7] affixed with mud, as would those at numerous sites across the Levant over the following millennia. Well-preserved mudbricks from a site at Tel Tsaf, in the Jordan Valley, have been dated to 5200 BCE, [8] though there is no evidence that either site was the first to use the technology. Evidence suggests that the mudbrick composition at Tel Tsaf was stable for at least 500 years, throughout the middle Chalcolithic period. [2]

The South Asian inhabitants of Mehrgarh constructed and lived in mud-brick houses between 7000–3300 BC. [9] Mud bricks were used at more than 15 reported sites attributed to the 3rd millennium BC in the ancient Indus Valley Civilization. In the Mature Harappan phase fired bricks were used. [10]

The Mesopotamians used sun-dried bricks in their city construction; [11] typically these bricks were flat on the bottom and curved on the top, called plano-convex mud bricks. Some were formed in a square mould and rounded so that the middle was thicker than the ends. Some walls had a few courses of fired bricks from their bases up to the splash line to extend the life of the building.

In Minoan Crete, at the Knossos site, there is archaeological evidence that sun-dried bricks were used in the Neolithic period (prior to 3400 BC). [12]

Sun dried mudbrick was the most common construction material employed in ancient Egypt during pharaonic times and were made in pretty much the same way for millennia. Mud from some locations required sand, chopped straw or other binders such as animal dung to be mixed in with the mud to increase durability and plasticity. [4] Workers gathered mud from the Nile river and poured it into a pit. Workers then tramped on the mud while straw was added to solidify the mold.[ citation needed ] The mudbricks were chemically suitable as fertilizer, leading to the destruction of many ancient Egyptian ruins, such as at Edfu. A well-preserved site is Amarna. [13] Mudbrick use increased at the time of Roman influence. [14]

In the Ancient Greek world, mudbrick was commonly used for the building of walls, fortifications and citadels, such as the walls of the Citadel of Troy (Troy II). [15] These mudbricks were often made with straw or dried vegetable matter. [16]


In areas of Spanish influence, mud-brick construction is called adobe, and developed over time into a complete system of wall protection, flat roofing and finishes which in modern English usage is often referred to as adobe style, regardless of the construction method.


The Great Mosque of Djenne is a well-known Mosque located in Djenne, Mali, and the largest mudbrick structure in the world. Great Mosque of Djenne 3.jpg
The Great Mosque of Djenné is a well-known Mosque located in Djenné, Mali, and the largest mudbrick structure in the world.

The Great Mosque of Djenné, in central Mali, is the world's largest mudbrick structure. It, like much Sahelian architecture, is built with a mudbrick called Banco, [17] a recipe of mud and grain husks, fermented, and either formed into bricks or applied on surfaces as a plaster like paste in broad strokes. This plaster must be reapplied annually. [18]

Mudbrick architecture worldwide

See also


  1. Roman Ghirshman, La ziggourat de Tchoga-Zanbil (Susiane), Comptes-rendus des séances de l'Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, vol. 98 lien Issue 2, pp. 233–238, 1954
  2. 1 2 3 Rosenberg, Danny; Love, Serena; Hubbard, Emily; Klimscha, Florian (22 January 2020). "7,200 years old constructions and mudbrick technology: The evidence from Tel Tsaf, Jordan Valley, Israel". PLOS ONE. 15 (1): e0227288. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0227288 . ISSN   1932-6203. PMC   6975557 . PMID   31968007.
  3. Hasel, Michael G. (2019). "Architecture". In Freedman, David Noel (ed.). Eerdmans dictionary of the Bible. William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. p. 246-247?. ISBN   978-1-4674-6046-0.
  4. 1 2 Morgenstein, Maury E.; Redmount, Carol A. (1998). "Mudbrick Typology, Sources, and Sedimentological Composition: A Case Study from Tell el-Muqdam, Egyptian Delta". Journal of the American Research Center in Egypt. 35: 129–146. doi:10.2307/40000466. ISSN   0065-9991. JSTOR   40000466.
  5. Littman, Robert; Lorenzon, Marta; Silverstein, Jay (2014). "With & without straw: How Israelite slaves made bricks". Biblical Archaeology Review. 40 (2).
  6. Emery, Virginia L. (2009). "Mud-Brick" (PDF). UCLA Encyclopedia of Egyptology. 1 (1).
  7. Tellier, Luc-Normand (2009). Urban World History: An Economic and Geographical Perspective. PUQ. ISBN   978-2-7605-2209-1.
  8. Rosenberg, Danny; Love, Serena; Hubbard, Emily; Klimscha, Florian (2020-01-22). "7,200 years old constructions and mudbrick technology: The evidence from Tel Tsaf, Jordan Valley, Israel". PLOS ONE. 15 (1): e0227288. Bibcode:2020PLoSO..1527288R. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0227288 . ISSN   1932-6203. PMC   6975557 . PMID   31968007.
  9. Possehl, Gregory L. (1996)
  10. Bricks and urbanism in the Indus Valley rise and decline, bricks in antiquity
  11. Mogens Herman Hansen, A Comparative Study of Six City-state Cultures, Københavns universitet Polis centret (2002) Videnskabernes Selskab, 144 pages ISBN   87-7876-316-9
  12. C. Michael Hogan, Knossos fieldnotes, Modern Antiquarian (2007)
  13. Hawkes, Jacquetta (1974). Atlas of Ancient Archaeology . McGraw-Hill Book Company. p.  146. ISBN   0-07-027293-X.
  14. Kathryn A. Bard and Steven Blake Shubert, Encyclopedia of the Archaeology of Ancient Egypt, 1999, Routledge, 938 pages ISBN   0-415-18589-0
  15. Neer, Richard. T., Art & archaeology of the Greek world: a new history, c. 2500-c.150 BCE, Second edition, Thames and Hudson, London, 2019, pp.23
  16. Birge, Darice Elizabeth; Miller, Stephen Gaylord; Kraynak, Lynn Harriett; Miller, S. G. (1992–2018). Excavations at Nemea. University of California Press. p. 113n345. ISBN   978-0-520-07027-1. Adding straw or dried vegetable matter to the clay of mudbricks was a common practice
  17. SACKO, Oussouby (15 November 2015). "Issues of Cultural Conservation and Tourism Development in the Process of World Heritage Preservation" (PDF). Area Studies. Retrieved 7 October 2016.
  18. Bradbury, Dominic (30 October 2008). "Timbuktu: Mud, mud, glorious mud". The Telegraph. Retrieved 25 February 2012.

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Adobe Building material made from earth and organic materials

Adobe is a building material made from earth and organic materials. Adobe is Spanish for mudbrick, but in some English-speaking regions of Spanish heritage the term is used to refer to any kind of earthen construction. Most adobe buildings are similar in appearance to cob and rammed earth buildings. Adobe is among the earliest building materials, and is used throughout the world.

Brick Block or a single unit of a ceramic material used in masonry construction

A brick is a type of block used to build walls, pavements and other elements in masonry construction. Properly, the term brick denotes a block composed of dried clay, but is now also used informally to denote other chemically cured construction blocks. Bricks can be joined together using mortar, adhesives or by interlocking them. Bricks are produced in numerous classes, types, materials, and sizes which vary with region and time period, and are produced in bulk quantities.

Mehrgarh Ancient archaeological site in Balochistan, Pakistan

Mehrgarh is a Neolithic site, which lies on the Kacchi Plain of Balochistan, Pakistan. Mehrgarh is located near the Bolan Pass, to the west of the Indus River valley and between the present-day Pakistani cities of Quetta, Kalat and Sibi. The site was discovered in 1974 by an archaeological team directed by French archaeologists Jean-François Jarrige and Catherine Jarrige, and was excavated continuously between 1974 and 1986, and again from 1997 to 2000. Archaeological material has been found in six mounds, and about 32,000 artifacts have been collected. The earliest settlement at Mehrgarh—in the northeast corner of the 495-acre (2.00 km2) site—was a small farming village dated between 7000 BCE and 5500 BCE.

Indus Valley Civilisation Bronze Age civilisation in South Asia

The Indus Valley Civilisation (IVC), also known as the Indus Civilisation, was a Bronze Age civilisation in the northwestern regions of South Asia, lasting from 3300 BCE to 1300 BCE, and in its mature form from 2600 BCE to 1900 BCE. Together with ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, it was one of three early civilisations of the Near East and South Asia, and of the three, the most widespread, its sites spanning an area stretching from today’s northeast Afghanistan, through much of Pakistan, and into western and northwestern India. It flourished in the basins of the Indus River, which flows through the length of Pakistan, and along a system of perennial, mostly monsoon-fed, rivers that once coursed in the vicinity of the seasonal Ghaggar-Hakra river in northwest India and eastern Pakistan.

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Mohenjo-daro is an archaeological site in the province of Sindh, Pakistan. Built around 2500 BCE, it was one of the largest settlements of the ancient Indus Valley Civilisation, and one of the world's earliest major cities, contemporaneous with the civilizations of ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Minoan Crete, and Norte Chico. Mohenjo-daro was abandoned in the 19th century BCE as the Indus Valley Civilization declined, and the site was not rediscovered until the 1920s. Significant excavation has since been conducted at the site of the city, which was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980. The site is currently threatened by erosion and improper restoration.

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Mud is soil, loam, silt or clay mixed with water. It usually forms after rainfall or near water sources. Ancient mud deposits harden over geological time to form sedimentary rock such as shale or mudstone. When geological deposits of mud are formed in estuaries, the resultant layers are termed bay muds.

Mortar (masonry)

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Building material Material which is used for construction purposes

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