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ONE-MA3 2017



ONE-MA3 2017: Mortars and Mosaics

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ONE-MA3 2017: Mortars and Mosaics

[fusion_text]By Sierra Rosenzweig

It was a day of creation for the ONE-MA3 team. Today, Italian experts came to the castle we’re staying at to teach us about ancient Roman mortar making techniques. The experts lead us through the classic recipe for mixing Roman mortar and demonstrated making a batch of it for us.

Professor Masic challenged the group to construct a mortar that was better than the ancient recipe. He tasked us to make one that was stronger, lighter and contains less pollutant than what the Romans used.


Muji leading the team in strategizing the best blend of materials for our mortar

We also learned from the experts that mortar is commonly used in walls, bricks and other structural objects. We didn’t need to create a wall with our mortar, so we used our extra newly mixed blend to create some “mortarmen” (and a mortardog).

Our mortar goes to good use making mortarmen

After our lesson on mortars, another expert taught us how the ancient Romans made their mosaics. We then learned the techniques for cutting stone and learned how to copy pen-drawn designs onto grout to create our own mosaics. Once we had our designs set onto the grout, we laid our stone on top and formed our wonderful mosaics.


Chad (left) shows his anchor mosaic while Zoe (right) works on her own masterpiece.

This summer, Professor Admir Masic is leading a program on Materials in Art, Archaeology and Architecture (ONE-MA3), in which MIT undergraduates are conducting three weeks of fieldwork in Privernum, Pompeii and Turin as a prerequisite for the Fall 2017 MIT course, 1.057 Heritage Science and Technology.  The program involves real-world analysis of ancient infrastructures and materials and focus on teaching ways to improve sustainability of the future through the study of ancient successes.