Plant resin is one of the most versatile substances to be found and has been harvested throughout time.
Resin is a sticky substance and gets secreted by coniferous trees as means for protection (e.g. toxicity against insects and herbivores). It is generally composed of organic compounds, called terpenes, which carry a sweet-scented aroma.
Throughout history, resin has been used as adhesive, while there is also proof to suggest resin carried religious importance.
Archaeological evidence from the tomb of Tutankhamen suggested that resin was a common element in most graves and crypts during mummification.
Resin was also used as varnish and cementing material.
ANCIENT GREECE and ANCIENT ROME
The resin named Mastic was harvested and used in these cultures for at least 2,500 years.
Mastic was a very unique resin that could be eaten, or used as a form of chewing gum. Mastic was grown and sold on the island of Chios. When Chios was under Ottoman rule, mastic was a highly valuable commodity. Anyone caught stealing mastic was promptly executed.
Before the sultanate, however, mastic was used for medicinal reasons. Records show that Hippocrates, the father of physicians, used mastic as a remedy for digestive ailments and colds. The ancient Romans also used mastic as a flavoring agent while making their famous spiced wine, which they called “conditum paradoxum”.
Mastic is still a major delicacy in the Mediterranean region today. It is also used by The Greek Orthodox Church to make holy oils for anointing purpose.
THE MONGOLIAN EMPIRE and ASIA
Around 1200 AD, resin was used by the Mongol warriors to make reinforced bows and arrows. In fact, the Mongols were the first warriors to use pine resin to make composite bows which had a much longer range than normal bows. This is one of the main reasons why the Mongols were feared all over the world as fearsome invaders. Resin was also used all over the world to build, reinforce and waterproof the wooden ships of olden days.
Apart from that, resin derivatives like turpentine, varnish and lacquer have been in use all over the world. These items are so universal that they are still in use today. Even in East Asian countries, lacquer is very important when it comes to the art of ceramics and pottery. Varnish is also used universally all over the world. Fossilized resins known as amber and copal are very valuable and have been used to make jewellery since the ancient times.
THE STONE AGE
Resin was even used in the ancient Stone Age for hafting together tools and weapons made of stone.
Resin is just a very versatile product that has served humanity for thousands of years. It will continue to be relevant forever.
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