WhatsNew2Day
Latest News And Breaking Headlines

Air pollution from 12th century British lead mines has been discovered in the Swiss Alps

Air pollution from 12th century British lead mines “was as bad as the industrial revolution” and was found in glacial ice from the Swiss-Italian Alps.

Researchers used high-precision laser technology to analyze the contents of an 800-year-old ice sheet drilled from the Colle Gnifetti Glacier in 2013.

They found that the levels of lead contamination in the ice rise from 1170–1220 and decrease with changing lead production in the UK – just as recorded in historical tax rolls.

Lead production during this period was influenced by events such as wars, the 3rd Crusade and the death of Kings Henry II and Richard the Lionheart.

Air pollution from 12th century British lead mines 'was as bad as the industrial revolution' and has been found in glacial ice from the Swiss-Italian Alps, shown

Air pollution from 12th century British lead mines ‘was as bad as the industrial revolution’ and has been found in glacial ice from the Swiss-Italian Alps, shown

They found that the levels of lead contamination in the ice rise from 1170–1220 and decrease with changing lead production in the UK - just as recorded in historical tax rolls. Lead production during this period was influenced by such events as wars, the 3rd Crusade and the death of Kings Henry II and Richard the Lionheart

They found that the levels of lead contamination in the ice rise from 1170–1220 and decrease with changing lead production in the UK - just as recorded in historical tax rolls. Lead production during this period was influenced by such events as wars, the 3rd Crusade and the death of Kings Henry II and Richard the Lionheart

They found that the levels of lead contamination in the ice rise from 1170–1220 and decrease with changing lead production in the UK – just as recorded in historical tax rolls. Lead production during this period was influenced by such events as wars, the 3rd Crusade and the death of Kings Henry II and Richard the Lionheart

WHAT MORE WAS FOUND IN THE COLLE GNIFETTI ICE CORE?

A previous study on the ice core revealed evidence of the Black Death.

This catastrophic pandemic from the 14th century has killed an estimated 75 to 200 million people across Eurasia.

The plague served to interrupt metal production in Europe, reducing lead levels in the ice core for 13 years between 1349 and 1353.

In light of recent developments, researchers are now wondering whether future scientists can similarly see evidence of the COVID-19 pandemic captured in the ice deposited today.

“The mid-late 12th century had the same levels of lead pollution as we see in the mid-17th century and even as early as 1890,” said archaeologist Christopher Loveluck of the University of Nottingham.

“So our ideas about air pollution from the industrial revolution are wrong,” he added.

In their study, Professor Loveluck and colleagues used a technique called laser ablation-inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry to reveal the chemicals, such as lead, in separate ice layers as it gradually formed.

These layers form annual bands that can be measured like the rings of a tree.

This method is so accurate that it can take about 50,000 measurements over a single meter of ice core, providing a detailed view of how environmental conditions have changed over time.

Based on atmospheric models, the researchers believe that much of the material deposited in the glacier originally came from the UK and was blown as part of winds transporting various forms of dust and pollution.

In particular, the team determined that the signal of lead contamination in the ice at the end of the 12th century was predominantly British.

This allowed them to compare the levels of lead contamination in the core section dating from around 1170–1220 – from which they obtained more than 100 lead measurements – to historical records of lead production from the same period.

These records were kept in the so-called ‘Pipe Rolls’, English tax records – currently housed in the collections of the National Archives at Kew – covering the reign of Anglo-Norman kings Henry II, Richard Leeuwenhart and John.

Despite being a toxic metal that can lead to life-long health complications with even low exposure, humans have extracted lead silver ore for centuries to make coins, roofing, water pipes and paint.

Researchers used high-precision laser technology to analyze the contents of an 800-year-old ice sheet drilled from the Colle Gnifetti Glacier in 2013

Researchers used high-precision laser technology to analyze the contents of an 800-year-old ice sheet drilled from the Colle Gnifetti Glacier in 2013

Researchers used high-precision laser technology to analyze the contents of an 800-year-old ice sheet drilled from the Colle Gnifetti Glacier in 2013

The team determined that the signal of lead contamination in the ice at the end of the 12th century was predominantly British. This allowed them to compare the levels of lead contamination in the core section of around 1170–1220 with historical records of lead production from the same period. These data were stored in the so-called 'Pipe Rolls', English tax data - currently housed in the collections of the National Archives in Kew

The team determined that the signal of lead contamination in the ice at the end of the 12th century was predominantly British. This allowed them to compare the levels of lead contamination in the core section of around 1170–1220 with historical records of lead production from the same period. These data were stored in the so-called 'Pipe Rolls', English tax data - currently housed in the collections of the National Archives in Kew

The team determined that the signal of lead contamination in the ice at the end of the 12th century was predominantly British. This allowed them to compare the levels of lead contamination in the core section of around 1170–1220 with historical records of lead production from the same period. These data were stored in the so-called ‘Pipe Rolls’, English tax data – currently housed in the collections of the National Archives in Kew

The team found that the ice records clearly reflected those of the Pipe Rolls – with lead levels from the glacier falling during times of war and rebellion, for example.

“The correlation between evidence of lead production in Britain in the ice core deposits and the tax paid on lead mines is astounding!” said Professor Loveluck.

“We see direct associations between production levels and governmental functioning at that time, for example, lead loads and lead production decline in the year one king dies before being succeeded by another.”

“This is because medieval governments are closed in the interregnum. The ice core shows exactly when one king died, and lead production decreased and increased again with the next frost.

“We can see the deaths of King Henry II, Richard the Lionheart and King John there in the ancient ice.”

“Seventy-five percent of that record in the Alpine ice core is a direct mirror of lead production in the Peak District.”

“At that time, the largest mining areas in Britain around Wirksworth and Castleton in the Peak District were the Carlisle mine, which was actually located in the central Pennines.”

The entire ice core – which is 72 feet (236 feet) long – also reveals a massive increase in lead contamination with the introduction of lead gasoline in the car, and a later drop back when lead from the fuel in the 1970s.

“Seventy-five percent of that record in the Alpine ice core is a direct mirror of Peak District’s lead production,” said Professor Loveluck. Pictured, the Peak District

“At that time, the largest mining areas in Britain around Wirksworth and Castleton in the Peak District were the Carlisle mine, which was actually located in central Pennines,” said Professor Loveluck. Pictured, the Odin mine in the Peak District

“Shining a laser on ancient ice has taught us to read glaciers while reading a book,” said paper author Alexander More of Long Island University in New York.

“We do both, and much more, to shed light on the economic and health implications of such extensive lead pollution in our environment.”

Now that this study is complete, Professor Loveluck and colleagues are turning their attention to looking at how climate change signatures are registered in the glacier.

The ice, it stated, also contains evidence of both short-term and long-term climate events – including weather fluctuations and volcanic eruptions – for some 2,000 years.

The full findings of the study are published in the journal Antiquity.

Researchers used high-precision laser technology to analyze the contents of an 800-year-old ice sheet drilled from the Colle Gnifetti Glacier in 201

Researchers used high-precision laser technology to analyze the contents of an 800-year-old ice sheet drilled from the Colle Gnifetti Glacier in 201

Researchers used high-precision laser technology to analyze the contents of an 800-year-old ice sheet drilled from the Colle Gnifetti Glacier in 2013

.

Comments
Loading...