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Roman Ruins Survive the Ages Thanks to Volcanic Ash

The ancient Romans mixed their mortar with volcanic ash to strengthen it.

Sandy ash produced by a volcano that erupted 456,000 years ago might have helped a huge ancient Roman complex survive intact for nearly 2,000 years despite three earthquakes, according to research presented last week in Rome.

X-ray analysis of a wall sample from the Trajan’s Market ruins in Rome showed that the mortars used by ancient Romans contained stratlingite, a mineral known to strengthen modern cements.

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