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THE ORIGIN OF THE BOTIJO


A botijo is a clay jug that is used for cooling water. The function of the botijo is very simple: it is based on the principles of evaporative cooling. The botijo is typically made of a very porous material. Therefore, as the water within filters through the pours of the clay, it evaporates once it passes through the miniscule holes (capillaries) and comes into contact with the supposed dry Mediterranean-type climate. In order to change into a gaseous state, the water needs energy which can be taken from the outside environment as well as from the liquid that remains within, while simultaneously lowering its temperature. This phenomenon is know as the botijo effect.

Its origin can be traced back to prehistoric times, presumably the Neolithic era. The first versions of botijos were derived from ostrich eggs for use by the adults, quail eggs for the children and bird eggs for the babies. In order to distinguish one from the other, each egg would be painted differently with the blood of animals they hunted.

The history of the botijo is revisited within the ancient Mesopotamian cultures where the first remains of the containers similar in shape to the modern botijo were found. The bronze era in the Mediterranean and Hellenistic Greece saw the botijo at its greatest when they were also used as decorative art pieces. Its decadence began at the second half of the 20th century with the appearance of domestic refrigerators. In Spain, where it’s been used traditionally, the botijo still remains as an ornamental element.

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