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Model brick
MFA# 03.1762
Nubian mud brick
MFA# 25.667


A hardened, rectangular, man-made block used since ancient times as a building and paving material. Brick were used as the chief building materials in many regions where wood was scarce, such as Mesopotamia, Persia, Palestine, China and in pre-Columbian Americas. They were originally made with mixtures of Mud (Clay and Sand), pressed into a molds then dried in the sun (see Adobe). Beginning in Roman times, brick were baked in a kiln. Brick can contain clay, sand, Calcium carbonate, iron oxide and refractory fillers. They are durable, resist moisture and provide insulation. Brick are also used for decoration.

Synonyms and Related Terms

plural = brick (not bricks); brickwork; brique (Fr.); tijolo (Port.);

Physical and Chemical Properties

  • Density = 1.4-2.2

Resources and Citations

  • Claudia Kavenagh, George Wheeler, 'Evaluation of Cleaning Methods for the Exterior Brick at the Brooklyn Historical Society' JAIC, 42(1), 2003.
  • Thomas Gregory, The Condensed Chemical Dictionary, Reinhold Publishing, New York, 3rd ed., 1942
  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971 Comment: p. 123
  • Dictionary of Building Preservation, Ward Bucher, ed., John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York City, 1996
  • A.Lucas, J.R.Harris, Ancient Egyptian Materials and Industries, Edward Arnold Publishers Ltd., London, 4th edition, 1962
  • The American Heritage Dictionary or Encarta, via Microsoft Bookshelf 98, Microsoft Corp., 1998
  • CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, Robert Weast (ed.), CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida, v. 61, 1980 Comment: density=1.4-2.2