'Death...more desirable than life'? The human skeletal record and toxicological implications of ancient copper mining and smelting in Wadi Faynan, southwestern Jordan

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Type Article
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)297-307
Number of pages11
JournalToxicology and Industrial Health
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jul 2002
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Skeletal material from 36 people, dating from the early Christian era, who lived by or worked in the notorious Roman copper mines of Phaeno, were analysed to determine their exposure to copper and lead. We demonstrate that many of the bones analysed had a substantially higher concentration of these cations than modern individuals exposed to metals through industrial processes. Health, toxicological and environmental implications of these data are reviewed.


  • ancient industry, ancient pollution, copper, human bone, lead, smelting