A Roman provincial city and its contamination legacy from artisanal and daily-life activities



Holdridge G, Kristiansen SM, Barfod GH, Kinnaird TC, Lichtenberger A, Olsen J, Philippsen B, Raja R & Simpson I (2021) A Roman provincial city and its contamination legacy from artisanal and daily-life activities. PLoS ONE, 16 (6), Art. No.: e0251923.

Roman metal use and related extraction activities resulted in heavy metal pollution and contamination, in particular of Pb near ancient mines and harbors, as well as producing a global atmospheric impact. New evidence from ancient Gerasa (Jerash), Jordan, suggests that small-scale but intense Roman, Byzantine and Umayyad period urban, artisanal, and everyday site activities contributed to substantial heavy metal contamination of the city and its hinterland wadi, even though no metal mining took place and hardly any lead water pipes were used. Distribution of heavy metal contaminants, especially Pb, observed in the urban soils and sediments within this ancient city and its hinterland wadi resulted from aeolian, fluvial, cultural and post-depositional processes. These represent the contamination pathways of an ancient city-hinterland setting and reflect long-term anthropogenic legacies at local and regional scales beginning in the Roman period. Thus, urban use and re-use of heavy metal sources should be factored into understanding historical global-scale contaminant distributions.

PLoS ONE: Volume 16, Issue 6

Publication date31/12/2021
Publication date online09/06/2021
Date accepted by journal06/05/2021

People (1)


Professor Ian Simpson

Professor Ian Simpson

Professor, Biological and Environmental Sciences