Buildings of antiquity

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First of all Thales thought that water was the primordial substance of all things. Heraclitus of Ephesus, surnamed by the Greeks σκοτεινος on account of the obscurity of his writings, thought that it was fire. Democritus and his follower Epicurus thought that it was the atoms, termed by our writers “bodies that cannot be cut up,” or, by some, “indivisibles.” The school of the Pythagoreans added air and the earthy to the water and fire. Hence, although Democritus did not in a strict sense name them, but spoke only of indivisible bodies, yet he seems to have meant these same elements, because when taken by themselves they cannot be harmed, nor are they susceptible of dissolution, nor can they be cut up into parts, but throughout time eternal they forever retain an infinite solidity.

Beginning with bricks, I shall state of what kind of clay they ought to be made. They should not be made of sandy or pebbly clay, or of fine gravel, because when made of these kinds they are in the first place heavy; and, secondly, when washed by the rain as they stand in walls, they go to pieces and break up, and the straw in them does not hold together on account of the roughness of the material. They should rather be made of white and chalky or of red clay, or even of a coarse grained gravelly clay. These materials are smooth and therefore durable; they are not heavy to work with, and are readily laid.

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