Natural stone formed by mineral deposits
Travertine is formed by mineral deposits, especially from geothermally heated water like that from hot springs and geysers. The large amount of volcanic activity in Italy produces excellent conditions for the formation of this natural stone. There are vast deposits of the stone in Tivoli, Italy, that are still quarried today. The name travertine evolved from the ancient “lapis tiburtinus”, meaning “Tiber stone”. The meaning refers to Tivoli’s ancient name of Tibur. Other areas that have significant deposits of this natural stone are Mexico, Turkey, China and Afghanistan.
In the U.S., most travertine is found in national parks. Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park, and Travertine Springs in Death Valley National Park are some of the more well known areas. There are only a few quarries in the U.S.and demand for this natural stone here far exceeds supply. For this reason, most of the product used in the U.S. is imported.
Building uses throughout history
Travertine is one of the oldest natural stone building materials. The earliest known uses of this natural stone date back to ancient Egypt starting around 3200 B.C. In ancient Egypt, travertine was primarily used to line floors and walls in temples and shrines.
From 768 – 264 B.C., the Etruscans of ancient Italy also made use of the natural stone. The large deposits located here were used for city gates and walls, like those still visible today in the city of Perugia. The stone was also used for tombs and other items for funeral rituals and temples.
Sometime around 200 B.C., the ancient city of Hierapolis was established in what is now Pamukkale in southwest Turkey. This area is famous for its unique, brilliant white travertine terraces and hot springs. This natural stone was utilized in the buildings of Hierapolis and can still be seen in the ruins today. One of the most notable structures is the theater of Hierapolis, which seated somewhere around 20,000 and has been extremely well preserved.
The ancient Romans used the stone of the region in buildings like temples, bath houses, aqueducts, monuments and for lining tombs. Romans were responsible for what is the world’s largest travertine structure, the Coliseum. With the fall of the Western Roman Empire and the subsequent ushering in of the European Dark Ages, the use declined. Travertine started to show up more in churches in the 10th century and beyond. This natural stone was also popular during the Italian Renaissance from the 14th through 16th centuries.
Travertine continues to be used as a building and decorative material today. Some of the most well-known modern examples are the Getty Centre in Los Angeles, and Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower) in Chicago.
The classic look of travertine can be the perfect addition to your home improvement project. This natural stone usually comes in variety of shades of white and select finishes are available. Gowdy Flooring professionals can help you select the right natural stone for your home. If you have any questions about our products or services, you can call us at (806) 353-6226. Connect with us via email on Contact Us. We welcome you to visit our showroom and office located at 5205 S. Coulter St. in Amarillo, Texas.