The need to meet the globally increasing demand for construction materials, while reducing the environmental impact of cement and concrete production, poses a technological and societal dilemma. Detailed knowledge concerning the mineralogical, geochemical, and microstructural features of ancient and modern binders is fundamental for novel, sustainable, cement-based materials to be designed, manufactured, and deployed. This introduction provides several basic concepts related to cement and concrete, as well as a general overview of the role played by these construction materials in ancient civilizations and in today’s society, and of how they are expected to evolve to ensure a sustainable, inclusive, and resilient urban future.

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