September 2007

Drilling advances

Drilling, like most other industrial operations, is actually a collection of technologies, trades and people. While it may seem somewhat distant to consider cement as an integral part of drilling, just try drilling a well without it. In ancient times, the Assyrians, Babylonians and Canaanites used various clay mixtures to bind sun-dried mud bricks to form structures with limited cohesiveness. On a visit to the historical site of Jericho, an oasis in Israel’s West Bank, our guide explained that archaeologists had determined that the mortar that held the fables walls was actually clay mortar dug from a nearby hill. That could have contributed to the walls’ catastrophic failure. Later, the Egyptians added lime and gypsum to the mortar mix as binding agents. That led to building larger, more substantial structures, including the pyramids. They are still held together by this early grout. The Romans finally got it all together.

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