• Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
    • Asphaltum A composition of bitumen, pitch, lime, and gravel, used for forming pavements, and as a water-proof cement for bridges, roofs, etc.; asphaltic cement. Artificial asphalt is prepared from coal tar, lime, sand, etc.
    • Asphaltum Mineral pitch, Jews' pitch, or compact native bitumen. It is brittle, of a black or brown color and high luster on a surface of fracture; it melts and burns when heated, leaving no residue. It occurs on the surface and shores of the Dead Sea, which is therefore called Asphaltites, or the Asphaltic Lake. It is found also in many parts of Asia, Europe, and America. See Bitumen.
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Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • n asphaltum One of the so-called bituminous substances which are widely diffused over the earth, and are of great practical importance. See bitumen and bituminous. The asphaltums of various localities differ from each other considerably in chemical composition, as is proved by their different chemical reactions. They all agree, however, in being amorphous, in having the luster and general appearance of pitch (whence the name of mineral pitch, often applied to them), in melting at about the temperature of boiling water, and in taking fire when heated and burning with a bright but smoky flame. They differ essentially from coal in being more or less soluble in various reagents, such as oil of turpentine, ether, and alcohol. Asphaltum seems, in most cases at least, to have resulted from the hardening of the more liquid forms of bituminous substances, namely, maltha and petroleum, which have oozed out upon the surface and become inspissated by oxygenation or evaporation of their more volatile portions, or by both causes combined. The most interesting locality of asphaltum is the so-called “pitch-lake” in the island of Trinidad, about a mile and a half in circumference, and filled with asphaltum, which near the shore is quite solid, but nearer the center, in places, is soft and bubbling. Most of what is called asphaltum consists of this material more or less mixed with sand or other mineral substances. Asphaltum is extensively used in a variety of ways, and especially for pavements, foot-walks, and roofing. For this purpose the material is prepared by mixing it while hot with sand or fine gravel, or by causing it to be absorbed by paper. Certain kinds of asphaltic rock, or asphalts (French asphalte), as they are frequently called, are peculiarly adapted for pavements or other special purposes. The localities of Seyssel in France and Val de Travers in Switzerland are the most important of this kind. At each of these the asphalte consists of limestone impregnated with bituminous material to the amount of from 4 to 16 per cent. This rock, especially that from Val de Travers, has the remarkable property of forming, without any admixture, an extraordinarily durable and elastic roadway, and is, although expensive, extensively used for that purpose in Paris and other large cities of Europe. The rock has only to be heated, when it crumbles to powder, in which condition it is compressed in molds into blocks, or simply spread over the surface required to be covered, and packed or pressed by pestle or roller, when, after cooling, it assumes a condition closely resembling that of the original rock. See maltha, naphtha, and petroleum. Also asphalt.
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Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
Gr. , of eastern origin: cf. F. asphalte,


In literature:

Whatever lay within the second compartment was not visible, for a cover lay over it and appeared to be sealed in place by asphaltum.
"The Beasts of Tarzan" by Edgar Rice Burroughs
And I have left the bones of my transient carcasses in pond bottoms, and glacial gravels, and asphaltum lakes.
"The Jacket (The Star-Rover)" by Jack London
Its bottom was formed of asphaltum.
"Foul Play" by Charles Reade
For some distance round the column is laid the asphaltum pavement.
"Travellers' Tales" by Eliza Lee Follen
A deep asphaltum has overpowered lightness and delicacy, and has itself become obscure.
"Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Volume 54, No. 334, August 1843" by Various
A good plan is to paint the inside of the box with asphaltum paint.
"The Automobile Storage Battery" by O. A. Witte
Instead of the Jordan, I was immersed in the Dead Sea, and the asphaltum cleaves to me.
"Vashti" by Augusta J. Evans Wilson
This color is due to the asphaltum with which the cloths wrapped around the mummies was impregnated.
"The Galaxy, April, 1877" by Various
Cements such as marine glue are solutions of shellac, india-rubber or asphaltum in benzene or naphtha.
"Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 5, Slice 6" by Various
The rock is of a tawny hue, and there is a queer odor of asphaltum.
"Mentone, Cairo, and Corfu" by Constance Fenimore Woolson