Looking back, around 3000 B.C., there is archaeological and written evidence of cork being used for fishing floats in Egypt and China. However, the most frequently cited early account of the use of cork as a construction material is contained in author Pliny the Elder’s 37-volume Natural History. This records the use of cork as roof coverings for houses, as well as for nautical floats, bungs for casks, soles for women’s winter shoes and medicine.
Cork has long been used as a stopper for wine containers, with ceramic amphorae closed with cork plugs being included amongst archaeological finds from ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman times.
Furthermore, according to some historians, the use of cork as a wine bottle stopper is credited to the monk Don Perignon in the Champagne region in the seventeenth century, especially the method of tying the cork stopper to the bottleneck so it could withstand the gas pressure of the sparkling wine.
Cork has therefore been put to opportunistic good use for millennia, in a range of building and other applications that take implicit advantage of its light weight, elasticity, relative water impermeability, surprising resilience, and insulative capacity which makes it feel warm to the touch.
Nowadays, cork is even used in the aerospace industry because NASA uses this material to provide thermal protection for every rocket part.
Wilton, Oliver; Howland, Matthew Barnet – Cork: an historical overview of its use in building construction [Online]. International Journal of the Construction History Society. Vol. 35 No. 1 (2020).