Drew Tewksbury at the LA Times:
While a computer is useless after just a few years or an iPhone goes out of date — planned obsolescence, of course — a brick can last for centuries; it’s the best technology we have ever developed.
In the world’s oldest book, “Epic of Gilgamesh,” the ruler of Uruk recognized how bricks paved a road toward the infinite. “Gilgamesh realized that his name stamped on hard bricks, ‘where the names of famous men are written,’ meant that his creations and his memory would last for eternity,” Cruickshank writes. “The kiln-dried brick was the passport to immortality, a guarantee that your creations — and your name — would live forever.” Built with fire- and sun-baked bricks, the monolithic Ziggurat of Ur — created around 2100 B.C. in a bustling metropolis of around 50,000 people, perhaps the Los Angeles of Mesopotamia — presaged the pyramids by centuries. A reconstruction of it exists today near Nasiriyah, Iraq, built by another ruler with an ultimately unsuccessful dream of immortality, Saddam Hussein.