Asphalt has been used for centuries as a building and paving material. It is a sticky, black, semi-solid form of petroleum that is commonly used to surface roads, driveways, roofs, and other surfaces. But who invented asphalt? The answer is not straightforward since the use of asphalt can be traced back to ancient civilizations.

The earliest recorded use of asphalt was in Mesopotamia around 6000 BCE. The Babylonians used a mixture of bitumen (a naturally occurring form of asphalt) and aggregate materials to waterproof their structures such as walls and dams. They also used it for construction purposes such as sealing joints between bricks. The Assyrians also made extensive use of bitumen in their building projects.

The Egyptians were another civilization that utilized asphalt in their constructions. They would extract natural tar from pits alongside the Nile River and then mix it with sand or gravel to create a binding agent for their masonry structures.

In ancient Greece, the people discovered deposits of natural asphalt near Piraeus harbor which they named “asphalton,” meaning “intractable.” This word later evolved into what we know today as “asphalt.” Greek architects used this substance mixed with lime mortar plastering on walls to provide insulation against dampness.

Fast forward several millennia later; the invention of modern-day pavement took hold during Europe’s Roman Empire when miles upon miles of surfaced road networks spanned across its territories spanning from Spain all through Italy towards Asia Minor present day Turkey).

The ancient Romans learned about Asphaltum – an oily rock often found along riverbanks that had become solidified over time under heat-scorched deserts – using hot water baths heated via various pipes transported throughout those cities underground systems using pressure-driven ceramic tiles located in every establishment on major streets called Calidiariums or thermae individually dependent on geographical earthquake fault lines known even today but more so then allowing rapid expansion during earthquakes saving life while also providing comfort.

Asphalt has come a long way since then, and thanks to modern technologies, it is now possible to produce asphalt in large quantities. The first patent for the production of asphalt was granted in 1848 to Edmund Davy, who discovered a method of producing asphalt from coal tar. However, there were others before him who had made significant contributions towards the development of modern-day pavement.

One such person was John Metcalf, an Englishman known as the “Blind Roadmaker.” He was born in Knaresborough, Yorkshire in 1717 and lost his sight by age six. Despite his condition, he went on to become an accomplished road builder and engineer. His main contribution was improving drainage on roads by creating cambered surfaces that directed water off of them and into ditches alongside – which are still used today – helping prolong their lifespan despite carriage loads being higher compared with even our current vehicular traffic weight limit regulations.

Another pivotal moment came during the mid-19th century when Gustave Eiffel (he later built a famous tower named after himself) experimented with different materials for making pavements stronger while raising funds needed upping numbers able built on said highways rather than decreasing those load-bearing limits & costs involved overtime harming revenue altogether via prolonged construction/worksite days requiring extra workers interfering with farming cycles seasonally dependant livelihoods local businesses directly considering prevalent diseases nowadays but oft-included side effects prolonging longer-term employment opportunities; dense urban areas avoided through planning & proper zoning allowing high-emitting heavy-duty vehicles get some use moving goods inter-city/jurisdictional trips avoiding taking unapproved shortcuts generally caused structural damage previous installations vicinity-wise due proximity alone).

Eiffel eventually settled on using bitumen mixed with small stones or gravel resulting finally in sturdier roads capable carrying more heavy transport vehicles over larger distances compared paving methods inconsistent or constructed quickly/lackadaisically leading to higher risks for accidents & undue financial consequences.

So, who invented asphalt? The answer is not an easy one. Asphalt has been used throughout human history, from the ancient Babylonians and Egyptians to modern-day pavement scientists like Edmund Davy or Gustave Eiffel. However, as in many other inventions that have persisted through time retaining useful successful features adopted by present day public infrastructure nowadays – finally allowing us all fast yet safe mobility despite changing environmental conditions affecting roads during wetter months or dry seasons alike because of their strength but superficially damaged by heatwaves resulting in buckling; new forms of bio-based paving materials still being innovated upon designed replacing petroleum-based ones currently slowing production due scale presently produced (although once matured commercially properly could prove much more ecologically sustainable than current methods). With luck, we will continue to see more advances in this field that increase transportation efficiency while reducing our dependence on fossil fuels over time!