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Unravelling the legacy of 7000 years of metal pollution in central-eastern Europe

Our Project

The advent of metal processing millennia ago changed the course of human history. First emergence of ore smelting in Europe occurred c. 7000 years ago in the Balkans, but lack of regionally representative environmental data precludes precise understanding of the long-term impact of such activities. Here we aim to assess the environmental legacy of this long-term history of metal processing by disentangling variability in (Pb) and other metal pollution in sites from eastern Alps to central Balkans. We will focus on high-resolution geochemical analyses (ICP-MS, xrf-core scanning) on ombrotrophic peat records, which are reliable recorders of direct atmospheric fallout of chemical particulates. We will apply Pb isotope provenance tracing to determine the sources and sinks of Pb pollution and the isotopic variability of several unconstrained Carpathian ore fields. In assessing rates of change, and tracing leads/lags in regional response, we rely on radiocarbon dating and tephrochronology. All geochemical and isotopic data will be treated in mixing isotopic models and changepoint analyses. These data will enable multi-method multi-site assessments of past pollution, bringing the history of metal processing and environmental pollution in central-eastern Europe to a new level of understanding. Our results will add crucial evidence to the long-range and long-lasting legacy cast upon theenvironment by past metal processing in Europe for last c. 7000 years ago.


Funding agencies and host

This project is supported by a grant of the Romanian Ministry of Education and Research, CNCS - UEFISCDI, project number PN-III-P4-ID-PCE-2020- 0914, within PNCDI III.

Our Funding agency:

Executive Unit for Financing Higher Education, Research, Development and Innovation (UEFISCDI)


Address:  21-25 Mendeleev Street, Bucharest 010362 Romania


Our host:

Romanian Academy Cluj Branch

Republicii 9, 400015 Cluj-Napoca, Romania

Our institution:

Institute of Speleology ‘Emil Racovitza’

Cluj Department

Clinicilor 5, 400006 Cluj-Napoca, Romania

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