History of Asphalt – 12 Cool Facts
1. The ancient Babylonians (a Mesopotamian culture, located in present-day Iraq) were the first to mix sand and stone with natural tar to make a building material, circa 625 BC.
2. By the early 1700’s, Europeans were using the basic asphalt mix- in a limited way – for road foundations.
3. In the early 1800’s a Scottish man, John McAdam, perfected the use of mixing stone and sand with tar for hard surface roads.
4. For a long time, Asphalt paving mix was called “tarmcadam”, then “macadam”. The word “Tarmac”, now used only for airport runway pavement, was derived from this name.
5. Although the word “Tarmac” is only used in the aviation industry in relation to runways, it is no different than any other paved road.
6. Asphalt pavement was first used in the United States in the late 1860s.
7. During World War ll, there were greater improvements in asphalt technology, as there was a real need for tougher landing surfaces for aircraft.
8. Outside of the United States and Canada, asphalt is often called bitumen.
9. In Canada, “bitumen” refers to their vast deposits of extremely heavy crude oil
10. The expression “bitumen” originated from Sanskrit. The words jatu, means “pitch,” and jatu-krit, means “pitch creating” or “pitch producing” (referring to coniferous or resinous trees).
11. In the Bible’s Book of Genesis (not all versions), the name of the substance used to bind the bricks of the Tower of Babel is translated as bitumen
12. Bitumen was used by French scientist Joseph Nicéphore Niépce in the first picture ever taken.
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