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An Experiment - Moving Concrete Monoliths by Hand
A Glance Into Ancient Engineering

An Experiment - Moving Concrete Monoliths by Hand

With the building of ancient structures such as Stonehenge, researchers at MIT have wondered how 3,900+ pounds of concrete were assembled without cranes or trucks. According to Andrew Liszewski's article on, the MIT researchers believe that the ancient engineers were "masters of balance and leverage," creating giant concrete structures that were movable by hand.

Matter Design, a design practice and research lab, collaborated with CEMEX, a company that specializes in building materials, to design concrete monoliths that could be assembled into a functional structure. Brandon Clifford, co-founder of Matter Design and assistant professor at MIT, worked on this experiment.

Known as massive masonry units (MMUs), these giant concrete blocks have varying densities and are engineered with "strategically placed bevels, rounded edges, pivot points, handles, and interlocking features," according to an article on GIZMODO. They are too heavy for a human to lift, but can be easily rocked, tilted and walked with precision. The article suggests that this experiment could be used to design and build permanent structures in place, and to protect from imminent threats, such as flooding.

Learn more about the experiment on Matter Design's website, by clicking HERE.

To view the GIZMODO article, visit

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December 5, 2019, 7:03 am PDT

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