A Concise History of the Use of the Rammed Earth Building Technique Including Information on Methods of Preservation, Repair, and Maintenance
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Pisé de terre or rammed earth is a building technique that has existed for over ten thousand years. Although this technique was first documented for Western Civilization by the Roman Pliny the Elder circa 79 AD, evidence of its use prior to his time is found in China, Europe, and elsewhere. Rammed earth achieved notoriety in the United States during three distinct periods in its history: the Jeffersonian era, the Great Depression, and the Back-to-Nature Movement of the 1970s. In the United States earth buildings are uncommon and usually deemed marginal or fringe. This is true even though at times the U.S. government has been a proponent of alternative building techniques, especially rammed earth. Intended for those interested in material culture, this thesis provides a brief history of rammed earth, articulates its importance to the building record of the United States, and describes methods for its preservation, repair, and maintenance.