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Aztec, Maya were rubber-making masters

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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-07-10 02:57 PM
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Aztec, Maya were rubber-making masters
Thursday, 8 July 2010
Aztec, Maya were rubber-making masters
Rachel Kaufman

The Aztec, Olmec and Maya of Mesoamerica are known to have made rubber using natural latex, a milky, sap-like fluid found in some plants. Mesoamerica extends roughly from central Mexico to Honduras and Nicaragua.

Ancient rubber makers harvested latex from rubber trees and mixed it with juice from morning glory vines, which contains a chemical that makes the solidified latex less brittle.

By mixing up rubber using different proportions of the two ingredients, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that tweaking the formula led to rubber products with different properties.

Some of the rubber came out more bouncy, suggesting it may have been used to make balls for the legendary Mesoamerican ball games. As described in ancient Maya texts, ball games often had religious meaningpitting good against evil. Its thought the ball games sometimes ended in human sacrifice, most famously in ritual decapitation.

Other latex-to-morning glory proportions created more durable rubber, such as what might have been used in Aztec rubber sandals, which were described by Spanish conquistadors but have never been found by archaeologists.


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sybylla Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-08-10 09:03 AM
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1. How cool is that?
Morning Glory juice make rubber versatile. This is one of those things that makes you wonder who was the first person to figure it out and how/why?

Was it the Reese's accident? - Oops, I got some of my Morning Glory juice all over your rubber sap.
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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-14-10 12:37 PM
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2. Completely bewildering! How DO people make these breakthrough discoveries, anyway?
Who would expect those plants to have that capability?
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