Rosin, properly "naphtha "(νάφθα; Vulg. naphtha, so thee Peshito-Syriac). In the Song of the Three Children (ver. 23), the servants of the king of Babylon are said to have "ceased not to make the oven hot with rosin. pitch, tow, and small wood." Pliny (2, 101) mentions naphtha as a product of Babylonia, similar in appearance to liquid bitumen, and having a remarkable affinity to fire. To this natural product (known also as Persian naphtha, petroleum, rock oil, Rangoon tar, Burmese naphtha, etc.) reference is made in the passage in question. Sir R.K. Porter thus describes the naphtha springs at Kirkulk, in Lower Kurdistan, mentioned by Strabo (17, 738): "They are ten in number. For a considerable distance from them we felt the air sulphurous, but in drawing near it became worse, and we were all instantly struck with excruciating headaches. The springs consist of several pits or wells, seven or eight feet in diameter, and ten or twelve deep. The whole number are within the compass of five hundred yards. A fight of steps has been cut into each pit for the purpose of approaching the fluid, which rises and falls according to the dryness or moisture of the weather. The natives lave it out with ladles into bags made of skins, which are carried on the backs of asses to Kirkuk, or to any other mart for its sale.... The Kirkuk naphtha is principally consumed by the markets in the southwest of Kurdistan, while the pits not far from Kufri supply Baghdad and its environs. The Baghdad naphtha is black" (Trav. 2, 440). It is described by Dioscorides (1, 101) as the dregs of the Babylonian asphalt, and white in color. According to Plutarch (Alex. p. 35), Alexander first saw it in the city of Ecbatana, where the inhabitants exhibited its marvelous effects by strewing it along the street which led to his headquarters and setting it on fire. He then tried an experiment on a page who attended him, putting him into a bath of naphtha and setting light to it (Strabo, 17, 743), which nearly resulted in the boy's death. Plutarch suggests that it was naphtha in which Medea steeped the crown and robe which she gave to the daughter of Creon; and Suidas says that the Greeks called it "Medea's oil," but the Medes "naphtha." The Persian name is naft. Posidonius (in Strabo) relates that in Babylonia there were springs of black and white naphtha. The former, says Strabo (17, 743), were of liquid bitumen, which they burned in lamps instead of oil. The latter were of liquid sulphur. SEE BITUMEN; SEE NAPHTHA.

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