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Mechanical properties of ancient earth and turf materials

Project Description

This project is a novel and exciting combination of engineering and archaeology and will focus on understanding the geotechnical performance of ancient earth and turf materials.

This will be the first study of Roman earth and turf construction with an inter-regional perspective and the first systematic study of this mode of construction in Britain, the Netherlands, and Germany. Where work has been done on earth construction in the Roman NW, mostly in France, the focus has been on identifying the techniques used (e.g. cob, rammed earth or mudbrick) and dating their introduction to the region. No other study has analysed the geotechnical properties of multiple types of earthen materials used in Roman construction. Equally, no other study has sought to examine what the analysis of Roman earthen materials can contribute to debates in geotechnical engineering and contemporary architectural practice.

Although earthen construction characterisation has been well defined in recent decades, turfs (blocks comprising soil and grass roots) are not usually considered as a load-bearing construction material. Recent work has made a promising start in this direction but these materials remain largely unknown in an engineering context. Understanding the properties of these materials will contribute not only to our understanding of why these materials were preferred for frontier construction in the ancient world but also to modern geotechnical engineering applications, where vegetated layers of varying depths are employed to protect slopes from erosion or landslides.

Funding Notes

Applications are welcomed from UK and EU students. Tuition fees (at the home/EU rate) and a stipend to cover living costs will be provided by the Leverhulme Trust.

How good is research at University of Edinburgh in General Engineering?
(joint submission with Heriot-Watt University)

FTE Category A staff submitted: 91.80

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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