The word asphalt is derived from the Greek word asphaltos (άσφαλτος). The Romans called it asphalton and used it to make their baths and aqueducts watertight. The first asphalt road was laid in the city of Babylon. It probably only contained asphalt in the substrate. The top layer consisted of limestone slabs laid contiguously.
The British explorer Sir Walter Raleigh discovers Pitch Lake, a natural asphalt lake in Trinidad and Tobago. He uses the syrupy substance to make his ships watertight.
First asphalt concrete
The Belgian Edmund J. Desmedt patents the first real asphalt concrete. He works in the United States at Columbia University in New York City. He is the first to use his invention to construct a new road in Newark and later also for Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. He uses the syrup from Pitch Lake as a binding agent.
Inventor Frederick J. Warren patents the modern asphalt as we know it today, with hot bitumen as a binding agent. Bitumen is a thick substance, created as a residual product by oil refineries. Once all the volatile constituents - like LPG, benzene, kerosene, diesel and fuel oil - have been distilled, bitumen is all that is left over.