Asphalt has superior qualities
While natural asphalt was utilized for construction projects in the United States in the 1860s, shortly after its introduction, the superior qualities of asphalt were realized, and asphalt soon became high in demand. Barely 30 years later, refined synthetic asphalt had surpassed the use of natural asphalt.
While asphalt use has really taken off in the last century, its use as an adhesive or binder goes back thousands of years. Historical records have it being used for waterproofing, ship caulking, and even as mortar for walls in Babylon.