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Historically the longest lasting building materials seem to be stone. But I was wondering what material modern technology can create that would last longer under various conditions.

The various things the material would need to be tolerant to would include extreme heat, cold, water, wind, plants, animals, sunlight, earthquakes, as well as a determined effort by people to deface, damage or destroy.

I had considered steel blocks with a coating of an alloy or metal that would not react to air or water, or maybe an advanced form of composite glass or plastic such as bullet and bomb resistant glass that would be multiple feet thick and reinforced with metal as well.

I was planning to ask this question in an architecture stack, but all I could find was home improvement and I thought engineering may have more people versed about materials science than do it yourselfers.

So, if a modern team was going to build a pyramid and wanted it to last much longer than those of Egypt what materials would likely be used?

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  • $\begingroup$ Is your definition of "modern" post industrial revolution or post WWII ? $\endgroup$ – Solar Mike Sep 13 '17 at 15:30
  • $\begingroup$ Also, most modern buildings have a design life very short compared to the pyramids or even churches / Cathedrals ... $\endgroup$ – Solar Mike Sep 13 '17 at 15:32
  • $\begingroup$ by modern I mean the technology of today $\endgroup$ – M. Aykens Sep 13 '17 at 15:39
  • $\begingroup$ I would say granite but not likely an answer that you want. $\endgroup$ – blacksmith37 Sep 13 '17 at 22:03
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I guess some kind of steel alloys, most probably featuring a high amount of titanium, will be the best, perhaps with some ceramic coating to weaken the effect of corrosion (even if it is already small for most titanium alloys). But ceramic coatings may be too brittle to survive people trying to deface the building.

The same counts for composite glass and other ceramics. Nearly all of them are extremely brittle and will thus deteriorate under the influence of impacting forces. Bomb resistant glass for example also shatters when an explosion hits it, but a plastic foil in between the glass layers keeps the outer structure intact. But this does not apply for constant effort to shatter it.

So imho only corrosive resistant metal alloys will be lasting for a long time.

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  • $\begingroup$ what about carbon fibers woven into huge blocks? $\endgroup$ – M. Aykens Sep 13 '17 at 15:48
  • $\begingroup$ Well, carbon fibers are not fully fire resistant and also not cut resistant. $\endgroup$ – Scotty1- Sep 13 '17 at 15:53
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    $\begingroup$ then I suppose metal blocks of some sort would last the longest. I was under the impression that the only metal that would not react to air or water or most other elements was gold. but solid gold blocks would not be possible, and being soft could be scratched maybe even by sand blown in the wind over time. $\endgroup$ – M. Aykens Sep 13 '17 at 15:59
  • $\begingroup$ But then everything in contact with seawater, like parts of ships which can't have a corrosion resistant paint, would have to be built out of gold. ;) $\endgroup$ – Scotty1- Sep 13 '17 at 16:20
  • $\begingroup$ for a life "much longer than" 5000 years I would say exactly opposite this answer. Over such long time chemical stability is essential so you specifically want something that will "never" oxidize. If you rule out actually using stone for some reason, you would likely turn to a ceramic. $\endgroup$ – agentp Sep 13 '17 at 20:57

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