Friday, May 23, 2014

Were Ancient Romans poisoned by lead?

Roman Lead Pipe
A Roman Lead Pipe

Some historians argue that lead poisoning plagued the Roman elite with diseases such as gout, and may even have hastened the Empire’s fall. How far the gigantic network of lead pipes used in ancient Rome compromised public health in the city is unknown. However, lead isotopes in sediments from Portus – the harbour of Imperial Rome  – register the presence of a strong anthropogenic component during the beginning of the Common Era and the Early Middle Ages.

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