Ancient References to Petroleum

The date of the first use of petroleum or its residual products, pitch and asphaltum, precedes authentic history. Probably the first recorded utilization is that in the 11th chapter of Genesis, in which it is stated that the soft or semi-fluid bitumen found in the valley of the Euphrates, and translated “slime,” was used as mortar in the building of Babylon more then forty centuries ago. Eratosthenes, a celebrated Grecian writer who lived in the third century B. C., has described this bitumen from the Springs of Hit, on the Euphrates, and has also told of its use in the construction of mosaics, pavements, etcetera, in the beautiful palaces and temples of ancient Nineveh and Babylon.

Herodotus, who lived 2,400 years ago, has related how asphaltic oil was produced in his day from a lake on the island of Zante, in the Mediterranean, off the cost . . .

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