As civilization has evolved, technology has evolved with it.
And yet, there are some technologies still in use today that have remained virtually unchanged for thousands of years. This ‘old technology’ performs some of the same functions, and appealing to the same visual qualities as they did when they were first conceived. Some of these innovations go unnoticed, just because they’re such a given after thousands of years of history. Yet, at times they still have the power to capture our attention.
One great example of this is ceramic tile. These building materials that have endured for almost as long as human beings first began to build. Ceramic tile has been a staple in the construction of homes, places of business, and even in the great wonders of the world that have marked our journey as a species from the Ancient world up into the present day.
In tracing the history of ceramic tile, these materials and the innovation which went into their conception can be found in a variety of cultures, seemingly to have evolved independently over a wide geographical span. I think this shows another interesting point; that the ancient architects of civilizations from Babylon to early Islamic cultures in Persia, to the Ancient Greeks were all after the same results in terms of visual appeal and function. And further, what they were looking for in tile floors, in a wall tile, in a roofing tile, is just the same as what modern designers, architects, and builders are after today. Look and long-term performance are still paramount when it comes to tile, which is as true now as it was then.
Ceramic tile is still a big part of everyday life in the modern world, so much so that we often take it for granted as a reliable technological innovation. Yet, striking colors, an interesting layouts, and an artistic flourishes still have the power to catch our eye. Even in the age of Internet, of mobile phones, of GPS, the old technology represented in ceramic tile still carries the potential to transform a space visually and to be reliable for the long term in the same way it did 4000 years ago.