Everything we know as bitumen, has its roots in the Middle East. The ancient region was filled with natural resources of bitumen, which was a great substance for construction of buildings and water-proofing of boats.
Archeologists call Mesopotamia a landscape of waterways. Boats were widely used for transportation at the time, and to make this public mode of transportation safer, our ancestors used to waterproof boats with bitumen. It is interesting to know that the earliest reed boat discovered to date was coated with bitumen in Kuwait, dated about 5000 BC.
A little black boat coming from Southern Mesopotamia shows bitumen has been used in the area for more than 4000 years.