How Did They Level, Square, And Plumb Ancient Stone Walls - Masonry - Contractor Talk

How Did They Level, Square, And Plumb Ancient Stone Walls

 
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Old 06-21-2017, 05:18 PM   #1
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How Did They Level, Square, And Plumb Ancient Stone Walls


I saw a picture of an old stone building in croatia which I think was from medieval times and was damaged in the war their and inside was smaller, uneven sized stones, it seems like it would have been difficult to make it level, square and plumb. I also noticed some older wood homes near me from the 1800's have stone foundations. Were old stone walls and buildings actually level square and plumb or did they just try to get it close enough?

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Old 06-21-2017, 05:30 PM   #2
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Re: How Did They Level, Square, And Plumb Ancient Stone Walls


Plumb bob? Square isn't that complicated, you could check the diagonal with a piece of rope, or a wheel. I read that the Egyptians used a tube floating on a leaf in a bowl of water for a level.

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Old 06-21-2017, 05:38 PM   #3
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Re: How Did They Level, Square, And Plumb Ancient Stone Walls


The theodolite was first mentioned in writing in 1561. The modern spirit level was invented in 1660.

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Old 06-21-2017, 05:40 PM   #4
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Re: How Did They Level, Square, And Plumb Ancient Stone Walls


And of course once you had a plumb line you could use the pythagorean theorem to establish square/level.

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Old 06-21-2017, 07:00 PM   #5
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Re: How Did They Level, Square, And Plumb Ancient Stone Walls


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And of course once you had a plumb line you could use the pythagorean theorem to establish square/level.
Wouldn't even need that. Once you have a plumb line, pick a center point. Measure up X", use a Y" length of string to draw an arc. Measure down the same distance and use the same string to draw another arc.

A line from where the arcs intersect to the original center point is at 90 to the plumb line. Look Ma, no math!
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Old 06-21-2017, 07:02 PM   #6
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Re: How Did They Level, Square, And Plumb Ancient Stone Walls


Geometry for the win!

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Old 06-21-2017, 07:04 PM   #7
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Re: How Did They Level, Square, And Plumb Ancient Stone Walls


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Plumb bob? Square isn't that complicated, you could check the diagonal with a piece of rope, or a wheel. I read that the Egyptians used a tube floating on a leaf in a bowl of water for a level.
That's not what I meant. We use brick and block the same size and shape now. It must have been hard to use stones all different sizes and shapes and get a level plumb and square surface, especially to put thing like windows and doors in.
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Old 06-21-2017, 07:43 PM   #8
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Re: How Did They Level, Square, And Plumb Ancient Stone Walls


Take a look at old stone buildings,the corners in many instances have dressed stones on the corners and random rubble between corners. Even if the corners are not of dressed stone,the masons picked relatively flat stones for corners. Check out the book The Art of the Stonemason by Ian Cramb,you will see many examples in both pictures and line drawings.
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Old 06-21-2017, 07:51 PM   #9
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Re: How Did They Level, Square, And Plumb Ancient Stone Walls


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Geometry for the win!

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Old 06-21-2017, 09:47 PM   #10
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Re: How Did They Level, Square, And Plumb Ancient Stone Walls


I once read that the Egyptians would dig a trench around the structure and fill it with water to have level reference point all around.


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Old 06-21-2017, 09:55 PM   #11
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Re: How Did They Level, Square, And Plumb Ancient Stone Walls


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I once read that the Egyptians would dig a trench around the structure and fill it with water to have level reference point all around.


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I wonder how we figured out that they did that.

Egyptian stuff boggles my mind. History channel does some fantastic shows.
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Old 06-21-2017, 10:56 PM   #12
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Re: How Did They Level, Square, And Plumb Ancient Stone Walls


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I once read that the Egyptians would dig a trench around the structure and fill it with water to have level reference point all around.


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That makes perfect sense. They could just transfer to a several benchmarks then demo the trench.


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Old 06-21-2017, 11:46 PM   #13
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Re: How Did They Level, Square, And Plumb Ancient Stone Walls


Quote:
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I once read that the Egyptians would dig a trench around the structure and fill it with water to have level reference point all around.


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Old 06-22-2017, 12:11 AM   #14
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Re: How Did They Level, Square, And Plumb Ancient Stone Walls


The Romans used a Groma to get a building square.
http://legioneromana.altervista.org/...ma?language=en

The plumb lines would be dropped into a bucket of on a windy day to steady them.
In years gone by the masons would usually spend the winter cutting the quoin stones etc to shape.
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Old 06-22-2017, 02:14 AM   #15
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Re: How Did They Level, Square, And Plumb Ancient Stone Walls


It is amazing there aren't really any real firm records about how they did some impressive things. They probably figured it was so commonplace and simple why waste time explaining it. Or maybe the real secrets were so secret they couldn't write or draw them or they would die.

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Old 06-22-2017, 10:39 AM   #16
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Re: How Did They Level, Square, And Plumb Ancient Stone Walls


Just some trivia,the three Pyramids on the Giza Plateau are approximately 13 acres at their bases. They have found they are all about three inches out of square. It is thought that it was not a miscalculation on the builders side,they are all short on their West elevation. That is attributed to the West wind sandblasting away the stone after thousands of years.
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Old 06-28-2017, 08:01 PM   #17
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Re: How Did They Level, Square, And Plumb Ancient Stone Walls


No power tools, or high wear cutting edges.....

1. Use soft stone.... limestone, sandstone, etc...
2. Use every size of material that has parallel top and bottom planes out side of the veneer face.
3.Remember lime based mortars have near zero tensile strength, thus gravity & mechanical bind is the mason only friends.
Most very large medieval structures are just a stone wall wythes with rubble ( well drained and usually alot of lime, some bond tie cross webbs prehaps...)filled
centers.

almost Every large town had some Roman era work to monkey copy.... See PR China.
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Old 06-29-2017, 08:20 PM   #18
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Re: How Did They Level, Square, And Plumb Ancient Stone Walls


1. But they didn't.
2. But they didn't.
3. Don't even use mortar.
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Old 06-29-2017, 09:43 PM   #19
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Re: How Did They Level, Square, And Plumb Ancient Stone Walls


ah hell, the aliens had lasers....
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Old 06-30-2017, 09:20 AM   #20
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Re: How Did They Level, Square, And Plumb Ancient Stone Walls


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Were old stone walls and buildings actually level square and plumb or did they just try to get it close enough?
I think you have to talk about stone walls separately, and there is a lot of variation even in them.

Up here, the stone walls around farms used stacked rocks of whatever size, generally no flat faces. The walls followed the topography. Level didn't come into play at all. These were just stacked, and some farmers were better at it than others. The next step up used some big rocks with at least one flat-ish face as a foundation, and the flat face was more or less leveled. The rest of the wall building was done as before.

That was all due to the materials at hand, and very little was done to the rocks found in the field. There were a bunch of feldspar quarries in this area, so quite a few house foundations used rocks that were a byproduct of working those mines. They were built similarly to the stone walls with a flat rock foundation, with little further concern about level until getting to the top part of the wall.

The more expensive foundations and walls around here used quarried granite, and that was all prepared for use in foundations, walls, whatever. They kept rough level all the way up.

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