Basics of Retaining Wall Design - 8th Edition
In the year one-million BC, or thereabouts, an anonymous man, or woman, laid a row of stones
atop another row to keep soil from sliding into their camp. Thus was constructed an early
retaining wall, and we've been keeping soil in place ever since…… with increasingly better
methods and understanding.
The early engineers in the ancient cultures of Egypt, Greece, Rome and the Mayans were masters at invention and experimentation, learning primarily through intuition and trial-and-error what worked and what didn't We marvel at their achievements. Even the most casual observer looks wonder at the magnificent structures they created and have stood for thousands of years – including countless retaining walls. With great skill they cut, shaped, and set stone with such precision that the joints were paper thin. Reinforced concrete would not be developed for a thousand years, but they used what they had, and learned how to do it better with each succeeding structure. Consider the Great Wall of China, for example, where transverse bamboo poles were used to tie the walls together – a forerunner of today’s “mechanically stabilized earth”. Those early engineers also discovered that by battering a wall so that it leaned slightly backward the lateral pressure was relieved and the height could be extended – an intuitive understanding of the soil wedge theory. Any student of ancient construction methods is awed by the ingenuity and accomplishments of those early engineers