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Mud brick construction, popularly known as adobe, is a technique that has been in use for thousands of years throughout the world. Some of the world’s oldest structures are made using adobe.
Adobe structures are especially common throughout the American West. While adobe walls tend to be quite heavy, their own weight provides a structural foundation. They do tend to be susceptible to earthquakes, but are excellent at maintaining internal temperature. The mud brick used in construction keeps them cool during the summer heat and warm during the cold winter months due to its insulating properties.
During the 19th century Native peoples, Mexicans, and recent immigrants built adobe ovens all over the American Southwest. These tall, beehive-shaped outdoor ovens used for baking and roasting, were known as hornos [ˈo̞ɾ.no̞s]. Plentiful, fireproof, and durable -yet biodegradable, adobe was superbly well suited to this task. Hornos were built by either side stacking, laying bricks on their narrow side, or flat stacking like modern brick are laid. (Image credit: Pascua Yaqui Museum, AZ - M. Day)