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The Olmec Civilization and the Use of Bitumen

The Olmec Civilization and the Use of Bitumen
Geoarchaeological research has identified origin sources of bitumen used by the great Olmec civilization of the tropical lowlands of central America, 3000 years ago. The project, described by Olmec scholar David Grove as a “break-though in source analyzing bitumen in Mesoamerica”, may shed light on the vast trade networks throughout prehistoric North America. Historic and Prehistoric Uses of Bitumen Bitumen is a black, oily, viscous material that is a naturally-occurring organic byproduct of decomposed organic materials. Also known as asphalt or tar, bitumen was mixed with other materials throughout prehistory and throughout the world for use as a sealant, adhesive, building mortar, incense, and decorative application on pots, buildings, or human skin. Archaeologists have been investigating the sources of bitumen, that is to say, from whence came bitumen used in ancient settlements, since the 1980s, beginning with materials from archaeological sites in Egypt and Mesopotamia. Sources

http://archaeology.about.com/od/olmeccivilization/a/olmec_bitumen.htm

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