Virginia Sealcoating and Paving
History of asphalt paving
Geologists have dated asphalt back to
biblical times specifically around the Dead Sea
which separates Israel from Jordan,
and involving the famous cities of Sodom and Gomorrah
that bordered the Dead Sea.
Proof that Sodom and Gomorrah existed rests
in the hands of research, but it is the minerals
found here that interest us today.
The land surrounding the Dead Sea was not
farmable so geologists set out to find
why people would have settled there such a long time ago.
They have come to the conclusion
that the reason there was settling on the banks of the Dead Sea were the minerals, specifically
Before cement was invented, asphalt was used to hold
stone blocks in place due to its waterproofing and
adhesive qualities. It was a valuable commodity and
a naturally occuring substance used to make vessels
watertight, used by the Egyptians in their embalming
and for building adhesive. Research has suggested that
it was a lucrative source of income, hence, they have
reason to believe that may have been why cities grew
up on the banks of the Dead Sea. The Dead Sea is one
of the few places today where natural asphalt can be
found. It has been found in small segments and
in 1.5 ton blocks floating on the sea. Natural asphalt
was probably formed from the evaporation of petroleum.
In the early 1900's, we began refining crude petroleum
and with the increase in the need for roads as automobiles
emerged, asphalt became a modern day thriving industry, although
very different in nature from that almost 7,000 years ago.
The Asphalt Association was founded in 1919 and today in known
as the Asphalt Institute. It is considered to be the best
source of information and advice on asphalt materials
and uses. It's purpose is to serve the users of asphalt through
programs in research and education.
Today asphalt is still found in its natural state mostly in
Trinidad and Venezuela. Other than natural deposits, asphalt
is currently considered a 'carefully refined
residue from the distillation process of selected
crude oils." (Wikipedia) Outside of North America
asphalt is called bitumen, but wherever it exists, it
is the main product used for road building today.
In the 1880's Washington DC boasted the highest
number of miles of asphalt streets in the world.