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Man's discovery of fire, the exact date of which is lost in the dim pages of antiquity, marked one of the most significant steps forward in human progress. In the evolution of heating and lighting we are accustomed to think of petroleum and its products as a very recent contribution. As a matter of fact, however, petroleum has a very ancient history. It is quite probable that Noah caulked the seams of the Ark with natural pitch from petroleum seepages. As long as seven thousand years ago the Egyptians used asphalt in embalming. In China, several hundred years before Christ. oil was obtained in deep well drilling for salt. Pliny mentions “Maltha” and “naptha” which were known to burn freely and were used in lamps. Marco Polo described the uses of oil as an illuminant in the thirteenth century in connection with a description of Baku petroleum. Over three hundred years ago there was a thriving industry on the shores of the Caspian Sea, a district which is today one of the world's oil centers. In the seventeenth century in America missionaries reported the use of petroleum by the Indians.
Hume, H. V.
Combustion Engineer, The Atlantic Refining Co., Philadelphia, Pa