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A word used by the Roman writers, especially Tacitus and Pliny , to indicate a species of mineral pitch or oil. The corresponding Greek word is ἄσφαλτος, the modern asphalt. It was brought chiefly from the Dead Sea (Asphaltites), and was used in building as a cement. In Syria it was quarried in solid blocks. In Zacynthus (Zante) there was and still is a pitch spring that has been at work for more than two thousand years. See Pliny, H. N. viii. 15; xxviii. 10.

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