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Short History of Plaster

Plaster has been in use for thousands of years. It can be seen in pyramids and temples, churches and Roman buildings. The most ancient plaster discovered was used circa 9000 B.C. in the region of  Mesopotamia. In 7500 B.C., Jordanians used a mixture of lime and limestone. The Greeks also used gypsum, in ancient Egypt; the Egyptians used plaster mainly as a surface for their decorations. There are lots of examples of Roman use, particularly in the remnants of the city of Pompeii. They used a hard, fine plaster on their walls and ceilings, with wonderful relief ornamentation. 


Plaster has been used in art, and in the manufacture of homes and countless buildings throughout the ages. In Medieval and revival times, gesso, which is plaster of Paris mixed with glue, was used to grant the ground for tempera and oil painting. Medieval Europeans had a production system known as wattle-and-daub; wooden frames filled with plaster. Even the Native Americans used clay to form a sort of plaster that filled holes within a framework of small branches woven like basketwork between supporting poles, resembling the wattle-and-daub method.


It is a resourceful medium that stands the test of time. Even today, buildings that are hundreds of years old still have plaster in outstanding condition. In the nineteen hundreds plaster was mostly replaced by gypsum board (also called sheetrock or drywall), not because of better quality, but because it was less labor intensive and cost less. Plaster has been replaced, and in some cases almost forgotten, but its quality cannot be matched or outdone by the materials that are being used in its place.