From: McMaster University
Published October 26, 2017 08:13 AM

Deadly lead: How lead poisoning affected the Roman Empire

McMaster researchers are investigating how lead poisoning affected human health in the Roman Empire.

The research, jointly led by Tracy Prowse, an associate professor in McMaster's Department of Anthropology and Professor Maureen Carroll from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Archaeology, is the first study to investigate lead production and use in the Roman Empire, using archaeological and skeletal evidence from a specific site in Roman Italy.

In the Roman world, lead was a valuable and abundant commodity with many uses that are described in ancient written sources and through the recovery of artefacts from archaeological sites.

The toxicity of lead has led to sensational claims by modern authors that lead poisoning caused the fall of the Roman Empire through its ubiquitous use in aqueducts, water pipes, household implements, and medicine.


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