Herodotus Returns

Ancient Mesoamerican Rubber Industry
June 22, 2010, 11:22 pm
Filed under: Mayan

Short piece in NY Times today about a study done on what appears to have been a developed and diversified rubber industry in ancient Mesoamerica. As always, love these stories that make us realize how little things have changed.

The Mesoamericans were robust users of rubber, according to historical and archaeological records. With it they made sandals, rubber bands and also balls, which they used to play a ceremonial game in stone-walled courts.

Each of these items need different qualities in the rubber of which they are made. A ball requires elasticity for bounciness, a rubber band requires strength, and a sandal requires wear and resistance.

A new reports that the Mesoamericans, which include the Aztec and the Maya, knew how to make different kinds of rubber, mixing latex from rubber trees with juice squeezed from morning glory vines in different proportions…

The earliest records indicate that Mesoamericans were using rubber by 1600 B.C. Thousands of years later, in 1839, Charles Goodyear discovered vulcanization, the chemical process used to produce rubber today.

Here’s the Times article. And a link to the cited study


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