Granite worktops are chosen for modern homes because of granite’s strength, visual beauty and grounded simplicity. But it isn’t just contemporary people who saw the merits of granite.
Across China, Europe, India and America, stone such as granite, marble and limestone has been used in all kinds of construction.
Granite is the most widespread rock on the continental crust. For thousands of years, civilisations around the world have used granite to build monuments, structures and even buildings from the naturally occurring stone.
Modern Worktops loves all things granite and we aren’t the only ones who are amazed by its versatility. Check out this trio of ancient and modern, mind blowing structures made from granite.
The Colossal Red Granite head of Amenhotep III
Located in the British Museum in London, the ancient head of the King of Thebes is a gigantic red granite statue on display for visitors all year round.
It was originally found in the temple of Mut at Karnak in Egypt. The statue only survives in two parts, the head and the arm. Both are on display in the British Museum.
The statue is thought to have been one of many statues that King Amenhotep II had commissioned of himself but it is unknown if it was on display in the temple it was found in. This is because reigning Kings would often destroy the statues of their predecessors or remake them in their own image.
This great, imposing head of the statue is made from red granite. Some may not realise that granite comes in a range of colours, including white, blue and black; as found in modern granite worktops.
This is due to the mineral compounds that create the stone in different geographical places. For example, granite is usually made pink or red as a result of high levels of iron ore.
Mount Rushmore in South Dakota, USA
The literal face(s) of granite construction is one of the world’s most famous landmarks, Mount Rushmore. Carved into the south side of a mountain, the monument depicts the faces of four US Presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt.
Construction of the mammoth spectacle started in 1927 led by sculptor Gutzon Borglum. His original plan was to have the Presidents depicted from the waist up. Sadly, only the faces were completed due to insufficient funds.
There are few granite structures in the world that have involved as much work as Mount Rushmore. It took 14 years to complete and involved the removal of 450,000 tons of rock to create the 18 metre high heads.
In 1991, Mount Rushmore underwent a $40million restoration to mark its 50th anniversary. A truly mind blowing granite structure, the Presidents now look as impressive as they ever did.
India’s Brihadeeswarar Temple to Shiva
Dedicated to one of the primary forms of God in Hinduism, Shiva, the Brihadeeswarar Temple is made from a single enormous piece of granite. Built in 1004AD, it was finished just five years later in 1009AD.
Starting with a single block, esteemed engineer and architect Kunjara Mallan Raja Raja Pernunthachan used the same architectural principles found in ancient texts to design the temple. For example, using measures such as the angula, a 1 3/8inch found in the Vaastu Shastras book.
The truly breathtaking temple sits on the banks of a river that is channelled around it to form a moat around the structure. Raised on a solid base at 5 metres above ground level, the many levels to the exterior has numerous decorations.
Along with representations of Shiva, classic Hindu dances and a big Nanda (bull) weighing 20 tonnes are present. The Nandi is also made from a single piece of stone and is in itself a remarkable stone structure.
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