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Ancient mortar

Moon Gallery, Nanoracks, Voyager Space

Civilizations contrast with other cultures by concentrating power and human control – and by having a public works infrastructure. In the 8th and 7th centuries BCE, Assyrians, the Greek and Etruscans created physical assets like roads. The Romans elaborated on this. They not only built, they also developed operational procedures and management practices. An excellent example of an infrastructure is an aqueduct network. Aqueducts were built throughout Southern Europe to supply the larger cities with water. That of the city of Rome was primarily outstanding due to its sheer size and complexity of the hydraulic systems as a whole. From the first aqueduct put into operation in 312 BCE until the eleventh (and last) in 226 CE, a total of 450 kilometers served approximately one million people with drinking water, water for baths and fountains, and water to flush that other critical infrastructure: sewers. Also, these fundamental facilities guarantee that basic needs are taken care of. This allowed people’s energy to be routed towards research and exploration. This is where infrastructure links to a moon colony: the habitat of a colony can grow faster and colonists yield more scientific and social progress when all basic needs are served by the base of a Maslow pyramid.

SUBSTRUCTION consists of one cubic centimetre of mortar, a building material used to build the classical Mediterranean aqueducts, as a metaphor for the essence of infrastructure. It is attributed to the actual Aqua Tepula aqueduct, east of Rome. The idea is inspired by Esther Van Deman, an archeologist exploring the classic aqueduct infrastructure of the campagna romana in the 1920’s and 30’s. Her work is still considered as a milestone. Friends and colleagues nicknamed her Tufa Lady because of her meticulously detailed descriptions of stone work. With this cube, all entrepreneurs and engineers are reminded that only infrastructures makes a habitat lasts for many generations. The first colony on the moon can become a civilization – as long as the infrastructures are an integrated and inseparable part of its design. The first big task of any colonist should be to put craftmanship, intelligence and perseverance into place by building a substruction for their air, climate and water – and maintain it until the end of years.

Technical information:

Artwork name:





Hans Brooymans


The Netherlands

This work is part of the following collection:

Moon Gallery

Ancient mortar



1 x 1 x 1 cm



IAAA Art Style:

Launch vehicle / mission:

Antares 230+ / NG-17 Cygnus resupply mission

Host spacecraft / hardware:

International Space Station



Launch location:

NASA Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia

Launch date:

19 Feb 2022

Orbit / space location:

LEO, International Space Station (ISS)

Return vehicle:

SpaceX Dragon 2

End date:

11 January 2023



Client / Agency:

Moon Gallery, Nanoracks, Voyager Space


Hans Brooymans

Visual artist, photographer

The Netherlands

Hans Brooymans


Moon Gallery


Moon Gallery


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