Tile Roofing is OLD, very very very old. It’s almost as old as pottery, in fact it’s so old that accurate dating is difficult and almost impossible, we’re talking well over 5,000 years ago. Oddly enough it surfaces in both china and greece at around the same time.
In the west, Fired Tile roofing was discovered in a archaeological site in lerna greece. this site is known as “house of the tiles” imaginative name no? the structure stems from the early helladic period (around 2500 bc) and is referred to as a palace or administrative center. it’s exact function remains unknown due to a lack of finds showing what the building was used for. Debris found in the site contains thousands of terracotta roofing tiles that had fallen from the roof.
Tile Making evolved from primitive pottery manufacture, with the earliest architectural sites giving evidence of some use of tiles, colored glazed tiles have been discovered as far back as 4700 bc in egypt, these were not necessarily used for roofing but it stands to reason that if they knew they could make walls from it there was probably not much keeping them from using it for roofing material as well. bear in mind that it can be difficult to date when roofing tile was first used because not only was early tile roofing very similar to tile flooring, but it was frequently taken and re-used later on. one of the reasons that site in greece is such a great find was that during the fire that destroyed it, several of the tiles fell, shattering and becoming useless to scavengers.
Over the next few thousand years tile roofing became a very firmly established industry. with gradual improvements to both tile making techniques as well as artistic improvements to the design of the tiles. As the quality of the tiles being manufactured increased, and the ease of manufacture grew so in turn did their popularity.
One of the great draws of tile roofing was it’s fire resistance, not only is it incredibly difficult to get clay to burn, but during the pre industrial era, tile roofing was quite a bit more obtainable than slate roofing, with slate roofing being the only real competition for tile roofing in terms of fire resistance. Tile Roofing had the drop on slate roofing by about 4,000 years, since there is no evidence of slate roofing before 1283.
Culturally entrenched, and a lot more widely available than slate roofing, tile roofing continued to expand at the same rate as civilization. the sturdiness of your home and your roof was almost as vital a measurement of civilization as the distance between where you take your food in, and where your food ends up going afterwards.