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Unit 169 Lead Pollution In Greenland Ice Reveals Rise And Fall Of Roman Empire

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The rise and fall of the mightiest empires ever known is described in a number of books, but it turns out some of those events are also chronicled in the ice and snow of Greenland. Scientists, economists and archaeologists from the Desert Research Institute and Norwegian Institute for Air Research, and the Universities of Oxford and Copenhagen recently traced ups and downs of a number of European civilizations by examining an ice core. The team focused on increases and decreases of lead pollution as emissions from sources such as the mining and smelting of lead-silver ores in Europe drifted with the winds over the ocean to Greenland and eventually settled into its frozen core. They found that the pollution’s spikes and dips coincided with significant historic events. In regard to the Roman Empire specifically, high lead levels coincided with the civilization’s better years, such as the prosperous times of the Pax Romana and lows occurred when plagues and political uncertainty prevailed. Some of the team’s members have continued to work on the core’s analysis and are specifically focused on more precisely determining the geographic sources of the lead.
Questions
1. How could the scientists trace ups and downs of a number of European civilizations?

2. What was the critical element of the pollution analysis?

3. What was the trend of the pollution's spikes and dips?

4. Which would you prefer - being a historian or being a scientist? And why is that?




"History must be supported by scientific proof. Otherwise, it has no use."

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