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How Concrete Contributed To the Downfall of the Roman Empire

samzenpus posted about 5 months ago | from the huff-and-puff-and-blow-your-civilization-down dept.

Science 384

concertina226 (2447056) writes "The real reason behind the downfall of the Roman Empire might not have been lead contaminating in the water, which is the most popular theory, but the use of concrete as a building material. Dr Penelope Davies, a historian with the University of Texas believes that the rise of concrete as a building material may have weakened ancient Rome's entire political system as Pompey and Julius Caesar began 'thinking like kings'. Concrete was used to build many of Rome's finest monuments, such as the Pantheon, the Colosseum and the Tabularium, which have lasted the test of time and are still standing today."

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Economic reasons (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46859365)

The Romans found out that when you build a society on the assumption of permanent growth, when you stop growing... you stop existing. And today's business leaders, who don't pay attention to history unless it makes them money, are repeating the same mistake.

Re:Economic reasons (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46859497)

Planned obsolescence and subscription services that didn't exist for most people 30 years ago are helping to keep things afloat. The consumer market is probably larger than ever before as far as income to consumer spending ratio.
 
We may not be growing as far as new consumers or new markets at a rate we were use to for a while but we are paying for services on a monthly basis that no generation before the baby boomers did and even the baby boomers are late arrivals to this party. Top that with the degradation of quality in what use to be considered durable goods and you'll see that the market is indeed growing.

Re:Economic reasons (4, Insightful)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about 5 months ago | (#46859743)

Phantoms are chasing phantoms - with credit.

Re:Economic reasons (5, Insightful)

jandersen (462034) | about 5 months ago | (#46859761)

Planned obsolescence and subscription services that didn't exist for most people 30 years ago are helping to keep things afloat

They certainly give the illusion of markets growing. In real terms, I don't think the economy is growing; we are still living in a closed ecosystem, so at some point we will hit the ceiling and experience a catastrophic breakdown, unless we learn to curb our delusions about unlimited growth. The question is only when it will happen - but there is still an absurd reluctance to even consider the question, so we don't know if it might be tomorrow or perhaps in 500 years.

Re:Economic reasons (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46859893)

They certainly give the illusion of markets growing.
 
As I said, the market *IS* growing, just not how you expect it to be growing.
 
  I don't think the economy is growing; we are still living in a closed ecosystem
 
Really? Globalism is the catchphrase of the day. I'm starting to have a real problem taking what you're saying seriously.
 
  so at some point we will hit the ceiling and experience a catastrophic breakdown, unless we learn to curb our delusions about unlimited growth. The question is only when it will happen
 
Yeah, as long as humans are confined to this rock we know as Earth it is an inevitable problem... that's like saying everyone is going to die eventually. It's not insightful, it's pointing out the obvious without committing to the here-and-now of our situation.

Re:Economic reasons (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46860201)

And here we go: "this rock". The battle cry of the Space Nutter. Yeah, it's not delusional at all!

Re:Economic reasons (3, Interesting)

afidel (530433) | about 5 months ago | (#46859801)

Top that with the degradation of quality in what use to be considered durable goods

I'm not buying that model. Cars, which are the second most expensive purchase after a house, are lasting longer than ever. Sure, some durable goods are lasting less time then previously, but they also cost significantly fewer hours of labor to purchase so their hours of labor to useful life ratio is probably in the same ballpark.

Re:Economic reasons (5, Insightful)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about 5 months ago | (#46860025)

Top that with the degradation of quality in what use to be considered durable goods

I'm not buying that model. Cars, which are the second most expensive purchase after a house, are lasting longer than ever. Sure, some durable goods are lasting less time then previously, but they also cost significantly fewer hours of labor to purchase so their hours of labor to useful life ratio is probably in the same ballpark.

In 1974 you could buy a decent car for $2,500. A minimum wage job at the time got you $4,160 and a professional job $10,000. Back then a good car cost 1/2 of what a minimum wage worker made and 1/4 of a professional job. Compared to today, where minimum wage gets you $15,080 and a profession job $50,000, a price of a car should be $7,500 to $12,500.

There is no doubt that cars are more "durable" than before, but it's only because, compared to wages, we are paying 2 to 3 times as much for the same product.

Re:Economic reasons (2)

deadweight (681827) | about 5 months ago | (#46860119)

I bought a BMW for $15,000 (top end of your range) with 50,000 miles on it and drove it until it had 250,000 miles at which point it died. Got $1800 for it as a parts/repair car too. So in 1974 the average POS for sale back then was about DONE at 50,000 miles and 250,000 miles was a miracle car.

Re:Economic reasons (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 5 months ago | (#46859825)

Top that with the degradation of quality in what use to be considered durable goods and you'll see that the market is indeed growing.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P... [wikipedia.org]

Re:Economic reasons (1)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about 5 months ago | (#46859933)

Planned obsolescence and subscription services that didn't exist for most people 30 years ago are helping to keep things afloat. The consumer market is probably larger than ever before as far as income to consumer spending ratio.

We may not be growing as far as new consumers or new markets at a rate we were use to for a while but we are paying for services on a monthly basis that no generation before the baby boomers did and even the baby boomers are late arrivals to this party. Top that with the degradation of quality in what use to be considered durable goods and you'll see that the market is indeed growing.

The expansion of the consumer market has occurred through debt financing. That is fine in the short term, but is not sustainable in the long run. People regularly finance automobiles for six years while just a generation or two ago, a three years was the norm. People are carrying far more credit card debt than ever before and the purchases tend to not be for extravagance.

The only way for the consumer market to really grow is for the purchasing power of the individual to grow. Depressed wages and high unemployment are keeping that from happening. It is only an illusion that the market is growing. It's like saying the federal budget is balanced because they have included borrowing in it to cover the shortfall.

Re:Economic reasons (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46859501)

Because then people fire you for not gaining on last quarter. Keep fucking that chicken.

Re:Economic reasons (5, Informative)

siddesu (698447) | about 5 months ago | (#46859507)

Actually, the premise that the Roman Empire fell because Julius Caesar began thinking like a king seems a bit wrong. The Empire was established after he died, after all, and lasted for hundreds of years after his death.

Re:Economic reasons (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 5 months ago | (#46859665)

Maybe it's one of those "You start dying as soon as you're born" philosophical things. Or before you're born.

Fall of the republic [Re:Economic reasons] (4, Insightful)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | about 5 months ago | (#46860211)

Actually, the premise that the Roman Empire fell because Julius Caesar began thinking like a king seems a bit wrong. The Empire was established after he died, after all, and lasted for hundreds of years after his death.

Yes, now that I look at the article more critically, the actual claim was "One could even say that it [concrete] played a significant role in bringing down the Republic."

The writer apparently confused the fall of the Roman Republic with the fall of the empire.

Re:Economic reasons (5, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 5 months ago | (#46859733)

Indeed. Haven't read the article, but if the premise is that Julius Caesar began having a bit too regally and that lead to Rome's fall, then it was a pretty odd collapse, that had this whole three century middle period where Rome reigned supreme in most of Europe, Asia Minor and North Africa. Rome didn't even reach its greatest extent, geographically, until two centuries after Caesar's death.

There are as many theories as to why Rome fell as there are as to why WWI started. At the end of the day, it was a combination of economic collapse (in particular, the debasement of coinage), bad government, poor succession rules that meant the military played too much of a role in an Emperor's rise and fall, climactic changes in Eurasia that meant lots of angry hoards of people from the Asian Steppe began their first major incursions over the Urals, and finally, in a last ditch effort, the later Emperors cutting the empire to pieces and hiring a bunch of unreliable and upwardly mobile German mercenaries to fill out their dwindling legions.

It should also be reminded that Rome did persist for a thousand years after Romulus Augustulus was deposed in the West; in the form of the Byzantine Empire.

Re:Economic reasons (3, Insightful)

ruir (2709173) | about 5 months ago | (#46860169)

I would argue Rome persists to this day, and you mail know it as a global corporation residing in a small country called the Vatican.

Err, no really (5, Insightful)

Viol8 (599362) | about 5 months ago | (#46859559)

Endless factional infighting combined with ever more rebellious provinces and incursions from surrounding regions did for the western roman empire. It managed quite nicely for hundreds of years without permanent growth - in the sense of territory - so that had nothing to do with it.

Besides, the eastern roman empire - otherwise known as Bytzantium - continued until the 15th century when the ottomans finally conquered constantinople. Thats almost 2000 years. The british empire barely managed 200, the soviets 70 and the 3rd reich about 10. Give credit where its due!

Re:Err, no really (-1, Troll)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about 5 months ago | (#46859775)

And the US Empire? 1890-2008.

Re:Err, no really (1)

Viol8 (599362) | about 5 months ago | (#46860049)

Depends how you want to define empire. I'd define it as a group of states with definate borders that have been conquered and are now ruled from a central point. The US states OTOH were created by the people they're now ruled by so its hardly conquering unless you consider the native americans. But they didn't really have nation states, just peoples so its a bit nebulous.

Re:Err, no really (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about 5 months ago | (#46860163)

Native Americans, Texas, Hawaii. Need I go on?

Re:Err, no really (1)

TWX (665546) | about 5 months ago | (#46859857)

It didn't help that there were crazy people put into power (Caligula, Nero) and feckless people as well.

I blame the crazy and feckless more than I blame the sedimentary medium used to construct things.

Re:Err, no really (2)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 5 months ago | (#46859955)

Endless factional infighting combined with ever more rebellious provinces and incursions from surrounding regions did for the western roman empire.

Sure. But one of the reasons for all that fighting and rebelliousness was stupid/insane leadership at the top, and a big reason for that was lead, which was used in pipes, cooking pots, cups and pitchers. Analysis of Roman bones has found sky high lead levels [wikipedia.org] , especially among the upper classes. Rather than ONE cause, there were lots of interrelated causes.

This "concrete" theory doesn't make sense to me. The Roman Empire lasted for centuries after their major monument building years, or more than a thousand years if you include the Eastern Roman Empire. If fact, rather than asking "Why did the Roman Empire fall?" we should be asking "Why did the Roman Empire last so long?"

Re:Err, no really (4, Interesting)

Viol8 (599362) | about 5 months ago | (#46860109)

Better military technology and practice and the ability to bring together greater manpower than the enemy. That and the fact that once people were living under roman rule it was actually quite nice so long as you didn't do anything stupid like raise a rebellion. To build an empire you need a strong military - to keep it you need to keep the citizens well fed and well off by allowing free trade. And the romans managed both.

Re:Economic reasons (4, Informative)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 5 months ago | (#46859627)

The Romans lasted from 400 BC to (arguably) 1400+ AD (given that you include the Byzantine Empire, which was what they called the eastern half of the Roman Empire after the Empire split).

If you don't want to include the Byzantines as Roman, then the Romans last from about 400 BC to 400 AD (when the Empire split).

When the USA gets a couple centuries older, we'll be HALF as old as the Romans were when they split into East and West. And one fifth as old as they were when they finally disappeared.

Note that I'm combining the Republic and Empire and East/West Empires into a single "Roman" label. Some people might think that innappropriate or misleading....

Re:Economic reasons (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 5 months ago | (#46859773)

I don't think it's inappropriate at all. First of all, the first steps towards a proper empire occurred during the Republic. And in the East, while Byzantium slowly became heavily Hellenized, there was no sharp dividing line. Byzantinium was the Eastern Roman Empire.

Re:Economic reasons (5, Interesting)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | about 5 months ago | (#46859633)

The Romans found out that when you build a society on the assumption of permanent growth, when you stop growing... you stop existing. And today's business leaders, who don't pay attention to history unless it makes them money, are repeating the same mistake.

For some reason people are obsessed with finding a single reason for the disintegration of the Roman empire but the truth is that there were many causes: the incompetence of emperors, the decline of the Roman military, the increasing military sophistication of the barbarian tribes, separatism among those barbarians that were absorbed, the fact that the influx of barbarians became to great for the empire to absorb, pandemics and warfare that destroyed the tax base which in turn magnified the military problems and it also caused governmental organizations and institutions to collapse, the list goes on and on. Another point is that much of the Roman world never really disappeared, it just came under new management. Although you saw urban decline in many parts of what used to be the empire a lot of Roman culture survived. A whole lot of stuff went up in flames but many of the barbarian kings that took over the various parts of the western empire often went out of their way to make sure to preserve as much as possible of the Roman governmental bureaucracy, industry, trade and educational institutions as they could. The more archaeologists research the 'dark ages' the more clear it becomes that they weren't actually as dark as we used to be taught in school.

Re:Economic reasons (2)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 5 months ago | (#46859797)

Roman civilization persists to this day. The Romance languages, the civil code that is dominant in Europe, Latin America, Quebec and New Orleans, even the European Union itself, I would argue is the latest attempt by the Europeans to restore the Pax Romana.

Re:Economic reasons (2)

cusco (717999) | about 5 months ago | (#46859965)

the civil code that is dominant in Europe, Latin America, Quebec and New Orleans

Institutionalized bribery was a Roman invention?

Re:Economic reasons (1)

Dog-Cow (21281) | about 5 months ago | (#46860121)

Human invention.

Re:Economic reasons (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46860215)

I would argue is the latest attempt by the Europeans to restore the Pax Romana

Don't tell the Italians (the Romans' closest descendants) that the EU is a sort of a new Roman Empire. Firstly, because they would feel insulted. Secondly, because the EU is driven by the barbarians, currently known as "germans".

Re:Economic reasons (2)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 5 months ago | (#46859843)

For some reason people are obsessed with finding a single reason for the disintegration of the Roman empire

Part of it is our increasing addiction to soundbites. Part of it is finding a soundbite cause that (just by chance mind you) matches current political/philosophical bugaboos.

Re:Economic reasons (5, Interesting)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 5 months ago | (#46860187)

And the individuals bugaboos. Everyone wants to see the empire's fall as due to their own personal dislikes. Ask the libertarians, they'll blame overregulation. Ask the conservatives, they'll blame socialism. Ask the liberals, they'll blame polluted water or corruption.

You can see it in a more recent event too - the early troubles at the Jamestown colony. It's recent enough to be very well documented, but already we are seeing a number of disparate accounts circulating in popular awareness, one of which (Originating in a Fox column, now persisting as a circular email and blog post) claims that the colony was founded on a system of collective ownership and farmers didn't see any point in farming if the rest of the community would just steal their crop, so they starved to death until a panicked switch to a private-property system and free market economy brought about greatly increased production and prosperity. It's a bunch of lies with a hint of truth mixed in, Dan Brown style, and any real historian would laugh at it - but it still persists, because the myth tells people what they want to hear: A good morality tale, supporting their own particular morality.

Re:Economic reasons (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46859643)

The fact you and the general public think today's business leaders and government officials aren't paying attention to it just shows your ignorance.

Why do you think we have a Federal Reserve, fiat banking system and innumerable other mechanisms to prop up our society build on a fictitious measure of value (money). Inflation is a tool, just like controlling our money supply.

There's a reason we almost went into a great depression again but were mostly fine going on 2-3 years later. We have learned from the mistakes of the past, just not all of them (deregulation primarily).

Re:Economic reasons (4, Interesting)

MickLinux (579158) | about 5 months ago | (#46859705)

I don't know that anyone thinks lead caused the downfall of the Roman Empire. I think it is attributed as 'one of many factors'. I think the more immediate cause of the downfall of the Roman Empire, was the invasion of the Huns, who conquered one germanic tribe, took their land, and promised them freedom if they would then conquer the next tribe over, for them. This triggered a cascade of refugees, of which the Vandals came to Northern Italy, starving. The Senate voted to tell them 'come halfway to Rome, stop, and we will give you humanitarian aid' [food]. They then gave the contract for the food to a senator who was expected to embezzle most of the money. He embezzled it all, and the Vandals went through the whole Roman empire looking for food, and picking up slaves who walked away from their jobs to join the Vandals. Thus, the Empire lost its labor force. After that, since it still was the crown jewel for despots, it got conquered continuously.

Kindof like Iraq, kindof like Poland, Kindof like Lithuania, kindof like what'll happen to Russia, kindof like what's happening to the US.

oh, and ---- almost forgot.

No, monuments weren't first introduced to later Rome with concrete. Nor were big buildings. Come to think of it, nor were concrete buildings. All of that long predated Rome.

Horrible article. Fine slashdot fare, if I ever saw it.

It would be better to say, "the fall of Rome was caused by the introduction of Slashdot. Polling shows that..."

Re:Economic reasons (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46859975)

It would be better to say, "the fall of Rome was caused by the introduction of Slashdot. Polling shows that..."

... it was Cowboy Neal?

Growth right; Building wrong (1)

peter303 (12292) | about 5 months ago | (#46859833)

Economic growth was from the deposiling of conquered peoples. By the 2nd century there were just poor, wild peoles beyond borders. Not much incentive to conquer.

Re:Economic reasons (1)

rahvin112 (446269) | about 5 months ago | (#46859881)

It wasn't permanent growth that did the Romans in economically. It was an economy based on and entirely dependent on slavery. The Romans themselves did nothing, everything important was done by slaves including some of the most famous engineers. You can't sustain an economy forever based on slavery, at some point it's going to collapse because you don't know how to do anything anymore.

Concrete caused the Rise of the Roman Empire (1)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | about 5 months ago | (#46860175)

The summary credits concrete for the fall of the Roman empire, but since the text says it was introduced into Roman building by Pompey in 55 BC, and then picked up by Julius Caesar in 48BC-- that is, just before the Romans became an empire-- it looks more as if it is crediting concrete with the ascendancy of the Roman empire. The fall of the empire wouldn't happen for several centuries yet.

Worst article ever... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46859403)

I am now dumber having read that article. Nowhere does it explain how concrete may have caused the downfall of the Roman empire.

Re:Worst article ever... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46859461)

And it's wrong on many other points, too.

Dumber and dumber and dumber creeps in this petty slashdot from day to day...

Re:Worst article ever... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46859489)

I am now dumber having read that article. Nowhere does it explain how concrete may have caused the downfall of the Roman empire.

Must be a lot of concrete in the drinkin' water in Texas.

Nor does it explain how the eastern half of the empire lasted until the 1400's. I'm sure they had buildings there too.

Re:Worst article ever... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46859579)

Pocket watches became very popular in the british empire late 1800's... by a century later the empire was a tiny vestige of it's former glory. Therefore pocket watches caused the downfall of the british empire!

Curse you (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46859755)

You have foiled my plan to bring down the Western world through the introduction of Smart watches!

Re:Worst article ever... (4, Interesting)

Sockatume (732728) | about 5 months ago | (#46859589)

In fact it looks like they have it exactly backwards. What the academic actually said is that it led to the political downfall of the Republic, which was replaced by the Empire.

Re:Worst article ever... (1)

Dr. Spork (142693) | about 5 months ago | (#46859651)

Exactly. Whoever wrote that article didn't catch on to this. And neither did the submitter and Slashdot editors, so now we have complete nonsense on the front page. Oh, another Slasdot Monday!

Re:Worst article ever... (2)

mattb47 (85083) | about 5 months ago | (#46859645)

I think this is a case of the ignorant editors at IBT slapping a title on this. The text of the article doesn't claim the Roman *EMPIRE* fell because of concrete, it claims that the fall of the *REPUBLIC* was hastened by concrete.

BIG difference.
 

Re:Worst article ever... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46860189)

it claims that the fall of the *REPUBLIC* was hastened by concrete.

Worst Star Wars prequel ever though...

How about the summary? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46859715)

lead contaminating in the water

Whew -- for a second there I was worried that the lead would contaminate the water, rather than contaminating itself ("in the water").

Re:Worst article ever... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46859735)

I have never seen a decent article in the IBT.

Re:Worst article ever... (1)

alta (1263) | about 5 months ago | (#46859935)

I'm glad you confirmed what I was thinking too.

Lets make a headline and then completely refuse to validate it with a reason.

Re:Worst article ever... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46860039)

^^ That. Thank you. I found myself searching for the rest of the article.

Re:Worst article ever... (4, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | about 5 months ago | (#46860053)

Nowhere does it explain how concrete may have caused the downfall of the Roman empire.

In other words, we didn't get a concrete answer.
 

Uh-oh! (1)

sesshomaru (173381) | about 5 months ago | (#46859407)

I see projects being built with concrete every day!

I'm going to start accosting random people in the street, "We have to stop them! We have to stop them from using concrete!!!"

I think I will dress as a clown to more effectively get their attention!

Thanks, Slashdot, for my new summer project!

So much wiser (1)

NapalmV (1934294) | about 5 months ago | (#46859409)

Be relieved, with everything built from two-by-fours and drywall sheets, decline is averted.

What a load (2, Insightful)

Pharmboy (216950) | about 5 months ago | (#46859423)

...of bullshit. How this poorly written piece of crap got on Slashdot, I have no idea.

Re:What a load (2)

oodaloop (1229816) | about 5 months ago | (#46859871)

How this poorly written piece of crap got on Slashdot

You must be new here.

And what will be our excuse? (1)

iamacat (583406) | about 5 months ago | (#46859433)

Oil? Drones? Junk food? We are heading in pretty much the same direction, and for the same reasons. Political infighting and disrespect for constitution (like Julius Caesar becoming a dictator) do it every time.

Re:And what will be our excuse? (1)

DeathToBill (601486) | about 5 months ago | (#46859649)

Yes, Julius Caesar was the end of the Roman empire, I can see that.

Go read some history, then come back and try again.

Re:And what will be our excuse? (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 5 months ago | (#46859687)

I'm all set to blame Jersey Shore.

Wow - talk about missing the point. (5, Informative)

JMZero (449047) | about 5 months ago | (#46859445)

The article says:

"One could even say that it played a significant role in bringing down the Republic."

The Roman Republic preceded the Roman Empire. The historically literate person is saying that concrete helped in the transition from the Republic - which was controlled by the senate and consuls with limited terms, to the Empire, which was ruled by a single emperor for long stretches.

Concrete helped start the Empire, not end it.

The empire wouldn't end in Rome for another 600 years. It wouldn't end in general for another 1600 or so. It lasted so long, at least partly, because of all its durable buildings and bridges.

Re:Wow - talk about missing the point. (1)

putaro (235078) | about 5 months ago | (#46859855)

Thank you!

Re:Wow - talk about missing the point. (2)

Rob Riggs (6418) | about 5 months ago | (#46860213)

The historically literate person is saying that concrete helped in the transition from the Republic ... to the Empire.

Take your fancy liberal arts trivia to some other site. We don't need your kind around here. This is "News for Nerds" -- history was an elective.

Rediculous (4, Interesting)

dwheeler (321049) | about 5 months ago | (#46859473)

This referenced article is rediculous. First of all, the title says "Downfall of the Roman Empire", but Caesar FOUNDED the Roman Empire, so clearly it did not cause the empire's fall. I suspect they meant the fall of the Roman REPUBLIC, which preceded the empire. But it's still garbage. What most emperors wanted was power, not concrete buildings. The article doesn't even begin to make a connection between the two. If you want more about the history of the (Western) Roman republic and empire, listen to AWESOME "The History of Rome" podcast: http://thehistoryofrome.typepa... [typepad.com] It's fantastic.

Re:Rediculous (4, Funny)

DeathToBill (601486) | about 5 months ago | (#46859639)

What made the concrete rediculous is the concentration of iron phosphates in the limestone used as a raw material for the concrete. At least some of this survived into the finished concrete, lending it a reddish colour, especially when it got wet. Modern concrete is prepared by a different process that effectively removes the iron phosphates, meaning modern concrete is no longer rediculous.

Honestly, get a spelling checker.

Re:Rediculous (2)

Sockatume (732728) | about 5 months ago | (#46859769)

Did you just squeeze a fun, informative fact into a gripe about spelling?

Re:Rediculous (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46859823)

Our computers are able to process gigabytes in milliseconds with milliwatts. Turn on the fucking spell checker.

Re:Rediculous (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46859869)

Obviously the concrete was so diculous, it was diculous twice over, or re-diculous for short.

Re:Rediculous (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46859691)

Would you join my facebook please?

https://www.facebook.com/pages... [facebook.com]

Re:Rediculous (4, Funny)

beheaderaswp (549877) | about 5 months ago | (#46859747)

Not a lot of hard evidence around to make a concrete conclusion. Were there more information it would cement my thoughts. What I see is a conglomerate of issues.

Re:Rediculous (2)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 5 months ago | (#46859837)

Not a lot of hard evidence around to make a concrete conclusion. Were there more information it would cement my thoughts. What I see is a conglomerate of issues.

Now that's some stone-cold, solid reasoning.

Re:Rediculous (2)

beheaderaswp (549877) | about 5 months ago | (#46859907)

Admittedly, my thoughts started as somewhat liquid, but when fully formed, were solidified.

Re:Rediculous (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46860135)

In the aggregate, you did fine.

Re:Rediculous (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 5 months ago | (#46859819)

Technically, Augustus founded the Empire, though he used his status as a Julian to pull it off; that and the fact that he was smarter and better connected than the other members of the Second Triumvirate.

yeah (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46859503)

Worst... article... ever...

End of the republic, not empire... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46859509)

It looks like the article writer may have completely misunderstood the research. It looks like Prof. Davies is saying that the end of the republic and the start of the empire was a result of concrete usage. In the article she is quoted as saying "One could even say that it played a significant role in bringing down the Republic." and mentioned Julius Caesar and Pompey using concrete in their building to help shore up their political power by building permanent structures.

Everything other than the article's writer synopsis points to the era of the end of the republic, not the end of the western empire some 400-500 years later.

Re:End of the republic, not empire... (1)

HBI (604924) | about 5 months ago | (#46859537)

The amazing thing is that this writer was paid and probably edited. Yet this tripe escaped. Old media is in its last death throes.

Re:End of the republic, not empire... (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 5 months ago | (#46859725)

These days, most article editing is to make sure it follows the rules of English and that it has a coherent thought... fact checking is rarely done by anyone except the reader.

Re:End of the republic, not empire... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46859989)

It doesn't even have coherent thought. It makes a claim without providing any justification. I have only a cursory knowledge of the history of Rome, and I could tell the article made no sense.

Re:End of the republic, not empire... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46859831)

You read the article online though.

Re:End of the republic, not empire... (1)

j-beda (85386) | about 5 months ago | (#46859551)

It looks like the article writer may have completely misunderstood the research. It looks like Prof. Davies is saying that the end of the republic and the start of the empire was a result of concrete usage. In the article she is quoted as saying "One could even say that it played a significant role in bringing down the Republic." and mentioned Julius Caesar and Pompey using concrete in their building to help shore up their political power by building permanent structures.

Everything other than the article's writer synopsis points to the era of the end of the republic, not the end of the western empire some 400-500 years later.

Good point.

Re:End of the republic, not empire... (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 5 months ago | (#46859613)

I read the synopsis, decided the premise was stupid(of the synopsis).. read couple of comments.

only then I check where the link lead to. explains perfectly why the article is so misinformed despite the articles source material. ibtimes(the fuckers with auto videos of unrelated shit everyone has read about a dozen times before)...

Re:End of the republic, not empire... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46859951)

Ah well, it's a flippin' womenz. Can't expect much from one of them.

Maybe (1)

OzPeter (195038) | about 5 months ago | (#46859531)

Maybe the crazy desire to continually expand and build everything under the sun with concrete resulted from drinking all that water from the lead lined pipes!

Mismatch of Subject and Article (2)

Sique (173459) | about 5 months ago | (#46859597)

The article talks about the fall of the Roman Republic, while the subject talks about the Roman Empire. The article argues that the ability to build large structures cheaply and fast enabled figures like Julius Ceasar and Pompey to bribe the population by building theatres and new harbours and a new bed for the Tiber river, thus creating work for many people. and fastly improving the infrastructure without much taxation or other means to raise the necessary funds. Normally such a process would be long, and expensive, so no single person could force it through. But with the cheap construction means thanks to the concrete, it was possible, and it convinced the population of Rome that an ongoing dictatorship might actually be useful to them, and thus they didn't revolt when the power was taken from the Senate and the tribuns and given first to dictator Caesar, then to the Triumvirate of Octavianus, Mark Antony and Lepidus, and then to Octavianus as new Emperor.

So concrete allowed to end the Republic and start the actual Roman Empire.

Re:Mismatch of Subject and Article (3, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 5 months ago | (#46859919)

I'm not sure I even buy that. The Republic had always been an unstable form of government, and I'd argue the real collapse of the Republic came about because of the expansion of Rome (remember here, Rome as a major imperial power began with the Punic Wars, over a century before Caesar's death). As Rome absorbed the Carthaginian empire, it grew very rapidly and the political structure of the Republic was never very good and dealing with this. Caesar was ultimately the symptom of the disease that had plagued the Republic for decades. If he hadn't tried to seize power, someone else would have, and let us remember that his attempt ultimately failed, but did pave the way for his nephew Octavius to push the whole way.

Ignoring Republic vs Empire (1)

gurps_npc (621217) | about 5 months ago | (#46859635)

Ignoring the Republic vs Empire issue, the core article is at heart foolish.

The professor did not make that claim that concreted contributed to the end of the Republic/Empire. Instead she claimed that the use of Concrete demonstrated a psychological weakness - arrogance and that that weakness caused the end of Rome.

At heart, it is a "They became rich, fat and spoiled" argument. Never that convincing, as I have seen many rich, fat, spoiled people go on to do amazing things.

The thing is if you are rich, fat, spoiled and talented, then people call you smart and ignore the rich, fat and spoiled part.

If you aren't talented, then people talk about the rich, fat and spoiled part.

What is point of this article (1)

r.freeman (2944629) | about 5 months ago | (#46859721)

This article makes little sense, it doesn't deliver any explanation for such thesis.

The real reason (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46859727)

But everyone already knows that one of the main causes of the fall of the Roman Empire was that, lacking zero, they had no way to indicate successful termination of their C programs.

How charmingly simplistic (3, Informative)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 5 months ago | (#46859741)

I love the charmingly simplistic explanations of why the Western Roman Empire fell (the Eastern Empire survived for another thousand years). FTA:

The real reason behind the downfall of the Roman Empire might not have been lead contaminating in the water, which is the most popular theory

Most popular theory amongst whom? Certainly not historians. Romans had been been using lead for centuries. Why did it suddenly become a major issue? And why didn't it affect the Eastern Empire, which also used lots of lead? Now they're blaming concrete, without any real explanation. They're also confusing the Republic and the Empire, which would get you a failing grade on a HS history test (ok, probably lower grades too).

The fall of the Western Empire is an incredibly complex thing, with many causes. If you want an overview of what actual historians think, try here [reddit.com] . If you want to post in that subreddit though, be aware that they do not tolerate Slashdot style bullshit, or the sort of crap that the usual subreddit does. They're serious, which is what makes that subreddit so good. Answers must be from somebody who really knows the subject, explanatory, and backed by references. Otherwise you will have your comment deleted, and a third offense will get you completely banned. The complete rules are here [reddit.com] .

If you just want to shoot the breeze and engage in idle speculation and name calling, there are other history subreddits here [reddit.com] .

What? (1)

thexile (1058552) | about 5 months ago | (#46859751)

There is no concrete proof to this theory, isn't it? Oh wait...

veni vidi concretis (1)

12WTF$ (979066) | about 5 months ago | (#46859771)

I came
I saw
I concreted

Re:veni vidi concretis (1)

Chrisq (894406) | about 5 months ago | (#46859799)

I came I saw I concreted

Veni
Vidi
Vitrify

The argument does not make sense. (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 5 months ago | (#46859865)

"What [Caesar] was counting on is concrete," said Davies, who mentioned that the people of ancient Rome became used to politicians erecting buildings to show off their power, similar to the building projects of the Pharaohs in ancient Egypt. "One could even say that it played a significant role in bringing down the Republic."

OK they invented concrete. Concrete was cheap. It was durable, 1000 years of rain would not wash it away. They gave it a Latin name meaning ash-rock or something. So the rulers embarked on grandiose projects. Then? Why did it fall? Why did the Empire survive for 400 years after they started these grandiose projects? It makes no sense.

Colosseum built out of concrete? (1)

neilo_1701D (2765337) | about 5 months ago | (#46859873)

I understood the Colosseum was built out of large stone blocks, held together with huge iron clamps, with maybe a dab of mortar her and there. It was in use by the church for years, although not for religious purposes.

The only reason the Pantheon survives to this day is because it was converted into a church in the 7th Century. Plenty of other buildings both postdate the Pantheon and were made of concrete didn't survive.

Lead in the water a "popular theory"?? WFT?? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46859891)

The real reason behind the downfall of the Roman Empire might not have been lead contaminating in the water, which is the most popular theory

As a one-time historian, I can assure you that is NOT and never has been the "most popular theory." It's one of those old fringe theories that most historians regard as little more credible than "aliens did it."

The Roman Empire "fell" for the same reasons that every other empire has peaked and eventually declined--because empires inevitably overextend; run into military, economic, and social problems; and decline. There was nothing fucking magical about it.

um.. (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 5 months ago | (#46859991)

They made their water pipes out of lead. I seriously doubt the impact of concrete was anything nearly as devistating as large portions of their population losing double digit points off their IQs and/or going insane. Pure lead is pretty stable and not that dangerous (as compared to other forms of lead like we use to put in gasoline) but using it in your water pipes is just crazy

Several Corrections from Someone in the Field (5, Informative)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | about 5 months ago | (#46860079)

Let me correct several points, some of which have already been pointed out by other posters:

1) Davies, who is an excellent scholar and shouldn't have to be associated with bizarre out of context fundamentally broken articles like the one linked from the summary, says that construction of public concrete buildings was a political tool used by Pompey and Julius in an escalating bid for political power. She points out that this was a factor in the end of the Roman REPUBLIC because Julius and later Augustus eventually collected enough power to bring about the establishment of the Roman EMPIRE. So while TFS, and indeed the terrible article in the ridiculously trashy "International Business Times," state that concrete led to the downfall of the empire, their source instead says that concrete was one of many factors that led to the FORMATION of the empire. In otherwords, TFS and TFA both state exactly the opposite of what the source stated.

2) This statement about concrete contributing to the founding of the Roman Empire has been present in high school textbooks for at least a hundred years. It's not news.

3) The real news that prompted the article is also misrepresented. French scholars recently published a paper pointing out that the level of lead in Roman drinking water wouldn't have had significant side effects. Both TFS and TFA state that the previous theory on the fall of the Roman Empire was that it was due to lead poisoning. This isn't even remotely accurate. Yes, crackpots have published claims that lead poisoning led to degenerate Romans. In no way has it ever, not even for a moment, been accepted by scholars as "the cause" of the Roman Empire's fall. There is no single cause of the fall of the Roman Empire. It wasn't an asteroid or aliens or disease - it lasted for a ridiculously long time and eventually fell apart over the course of about 1500 years. The number of scholars who believed that the Roman Empire "fell" because of lead poisoning was similar to the number of paleontologists who believe the dinosaurs died out because of Noah's flood.

It's too bad that the simple debunking of this crackpot theory in the study published by the French team was reported in the International Business Times by such an unintelligent reporter, and even worse that Slashdot picked the story up without recognizing the inaccuracies that any 8 year old with a 100 IQ would be able to detect.

A couple months ago Slashdot went through a transition. It became useless for awhile because every article was flooded with complaints about the new site design, but I think that there was a simultaneous shift toward poorer editing and lower quality story submissions. Maybe the cleverer Slashdot posters did what I have and mostly stopped paying attention. I've spent 10 years laughing at the people who post about how Slashdot declined since the good old days, but recent evidence shows that the decline is real and undoubtable. Perhaps the editors suffer from lead poisoning.

Or concrete.

awful article (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46860087)

Poor journalism contributed to the downfall of every empire.

How about an aggressive intolerant religion? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46860179)

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