Reviving Ancient Ingenuity: Investigating the Self-Healing Mechanism in Roman Concrete

Date of Award


Degree Name

M.S. in Civil Engineering


Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Engineering Mechanics


Advisor: Joseph Saliba


This research investigates into the fascinating realm of Roman concrete, renowned for its enduring nature and self-healing capabilities, characteristics that have mystified and intrigued modern civil engineering. Investigation deals with replicating the ancient Roman concrete recipe, substituting original materials with accessible contemporary equivalents. A crucial aspect of this research involved replacing the traditional volcanic ash (pozzolan) with white pozzolan, alongside the use of quick lime, pumice, and sea water - materials closely resembling those used by the Romans. In a methodical approach, various samples were crafted employing differing ratios of these materials. Following a meticulous curing process submerged in water for 28 days, the samples underwent a compression test. This test was designed to induce hairline cracks, simulating the wear and tear experienced by concrete over time. Post-creation of these fissures, the samples were exposed to moisture and submerged once again, this time for a 30-day observation period to monitor the self-healing process. Remarkably, the results after this period were conclusive: the concrete exhibited a complete self-healing of the cracks. This phenomenon not only echoes the resilience of ancient Roman construction but also offers insightful implications for modern concrete technology. The study demonstrates that with precise material selection and proportioning, concrete’s longevity and sustainability can be significantly enhanced.


Roman Concrete, Self healing in concrete, Quicklime in self healing, Pozzolanic reaction, Post pozzolanic reaction, Calcite in concrete

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