Natural Rubber Ball

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Natural Rubber Ball
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Natural rubber is produced from the milky-white or yellow sap (latex) of the Pará rubber tree, which used to be found only in the Amazon basin and was notoriously difficult to grow anywhere else. Although this material didn’t appear in the West until the 19th Century, evidence for the use of natural rubber in the service of man dates back to around 1600 BC, when the Olmecs, an ancient civilization of Mexico, used this material for everything from decorative arts to sandals. 

The region’s most famous artifacts are the large rubber balls that archaeologists believe may have been used in games of ritualistic and religious significance. It is thought that the Olmecs played a game similar to netless volleyball with these rubber balls. However the price of failure of these games is thought to have been human sacrifice, and the game is thought to have played an important political role in settling border disputes. Some of these have been found preserved in sacrificial pools of water, and they vary in size from a few inches to a foot; the largest were about the size of a watermelon and weighed 8 pounds. 

Sample ID: 974


Donated by
Malaysian Rubber Board
Ancient | Elastic | Elastomer | Natural | Polymer | Rubber | Rubbery

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