Geothermal energy is often viewed as a relatively new form of alternative energy. In truth, the use of geothermal energy stretches far back into the past. Looking To The Past Of Geothermal Energy Geothermal energy is literally, “earth heat”. This type of energy's name comes from two Greek words: “geo” meaning earth, and “therme”, which means heat. While it may seem that the use of geothermal energy is a relatively new idea, it is actually an ancient practice. Many different cultures have used geothermal power to their advantage, dating back to some of the Earth's earliest civilizations. In order to use geothermal energy, the energy source itself must be tapped into. Geothermal energy comes from reserves of water located in the Earth's layer of magma. Magma, otherwise known as molten rock, is a super hot substance that springs directly from the Earth's core, which is a scalding 9,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Magma heats the reserves of water located in its midst to very high temperatures, around 700 degrees Fahrenheit. These geothermal reservoirs, as they are known, can be drilled into or can escape naturally through cracks in the Earth's crust. These natural formations create such places on Earth as hot springs and geysers. Geothermal energy can be traced back to 10,000 years ago when Native Americans used geothermal water found in hot springs to cook and for use as medicine. The geothermal energy found in hot springs was also used by the Romans. The ancient city of Pompeii used geothermal energy to heat homes. Romans also were known to use geothermal water for its medicinal properties; such as in the treatment of skin and eye diseases. Romans and other ancient civilizations also used the soothing geothermal waters found in hot springs for relaxation and natural bathing places. In more recent times, France started using this type of energy in the 1960's to heat their homes. More than 200,000 homes in France are now heated by geothermal water. Scientists and other researchers are constantly coming up with new ways to use the Earth's latent powers. While geothermal energy has not yet shown us all it can do, it is evident that many cultures have enjoyed its power already. From the comfort of a hot springs bath to the warmth of a geothermal water heated home, the Earth has just begun to use the energy contained within its crust.