– From Mesopotamian Origins to Colonel Drake
The discovery of crude oil and bitumen can be traced back to the Neandertals but more widespread use started in Mesopotamia around 8000BC. Ziggurats were made secure by bitumen oil mortar and Nebuchadnezzar allegedly waterproofed his hanging gardens with bitumen.
Unlikely medicinal uses were found and it was not long before the flammable properties of crude were exploited by the Byzantines who made oil grenades as a naval warfare weapon. We will see that in North America the native Indians were using crude oil as an insecticide and for skin treatments long before the famous sinking of Drake’s Well in Pennsylvania in 1861.