Quilt produced as part of an on-going research project on the asphalt landscape.

During the second half of the 19th century and the early 20th century, asphalt for paving roads was extracted from natural asphalt deposits. These deposits are naturally occurring mixtures of stone aggregate and bitumen – a black, sticky, organic binder. Commercial suppliers of asphalt fought bitterly over the rights to these deposits, which generated varying grades of construction material. By the early 20th century, strategies for producing artificial asphalts were tested and refined, reducing dependency on natural deposits. These mixtures combined local aggregates with bitumen collected as a residue of refining crude oil; these artificial mixes are the material of all modern roads.

In addition to providing material for paving roads, the natural asphalt deposits mapped in this quilt have been used for millennia for various purposes including building mortar, ship caulking, embalming, waterproofing.
Photos by Anita Khan

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