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Olmeca Waterproofing Technology Involved Tar

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Avenging Angel
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« on: August 17, 2008, 05:58:46 am »

Olmeca Waterproofing Technology Involved Tar
jueves, 07 de agosto de 2008 



Olmeca culturesAt Veracruz

 

Earliest evidence of tar used as waterproofing material was found in Veracruz and is more than 3,500 years old. Olmeca cultures that inhabited the Gulf of Mexico vicinity used it to protect soil, terracotta or wooden constructions, floor and wall covering, boat sealant, as well as glue.

 

Earliest remains of containers with tar are those recovered in the municipality of Hidalgotitlan, Veracruz, as part of El Manati archaeological project. Containers found by INAH archaeologists may have been used to heat up tar.

 

According to University of Pennsylvania archaeologist Carl Wendt investigations, Olmeca people collected tar directly from deposits, many of them concentrated at Eastern Veracruz, between Coatzacoalcos and Choapa rivers.

 

Once collected it was transported to the dwelling areas, where it was warmed up and combined with other materials like sand and vegetal elements to harden it.

 

The Coatzacoalcos’ Cayucos (Sailing crafts)

 

Contemporary inhabitants of the Gulf coast vicinity still use tar to flatten the entrance of their houses, patios, floors and highways, but mainly to fix boats, as their ancestors did more than two thousand years ago.

 

In December 2007, in the right margin of Coatzacoalcos River, two Cayucos were found.

 

This finding represented archaeological confirmation regarding the use of tar, or chapopote, as waterproofing and sealant material, which is at least 2,500 years old; although the wood has disappeared, the tar coating remains.

 

Alfredo Delgado, man in charge of INAH archaeological project, explained ships’ vestiges confirm that the use of a waterproofing and sealing is a millenary technique; Cayucos’ rests consist of several thin tar layers that vary among 1 and 7 mm depth.

 

A 1,400 meters long tunnel is under construction to ease communication between Coatzacoalcos and Villa de Allende; in the vicinity, vestiges of containers repaired with tar reveal it was used as glue.

 

Tentative dating – before Carbon 14 tests results are known - based on analysis of typological figures and earthenware, reveal the occupation occurred between 500 BC and 900 AD, perhaps remaining until 1,200 AD.

 

New information based on these findings consolidates the hypothesis of this area being dwelled by several peoples. It was a great commercial port of the Gulf zone, as diversity of earthenware style materials reveal. Maya, Teotihuacana, Totonaca, Tuxteca and Remojadas cultures’ ceramic items abound among regional styles. 


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Avenging Angel
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« Reply #1 on: August 17, 2008, 06:00:01 am »

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