How Antarctica helps study the history of the ancient Roman Empire

Recently, historians have become very fond of the ice of the southernmost continent, because there they have found an invaluable and boundless "library" of knowledge about the past of our world. The Antarctic ice sheet has a wonderful property - it never melts. Some coastal areas are affected by the climate, but if you know where to drill, you can find ice of any age that formed during a particular historical period on our planet.

Previously, information on the composition of such ice was of interest only to climatologists and geologists, as a source of information on geophysical processes in the past of the Earth. With new scientific methods, the range of extracted data increases, and today, for example, historians are very interested in the content of lead in the atmosphere in the last 2-3 thousand years, during the existence of already developed civilizations. Specifically - Ancient Rome.

In Roman mines, the mining and production of lead and silver went side by side, generating large amounts of emissions into the atmosphere when the rock was smelted. During the heyday of the empire, it was one of the main "generators" of lead waste in the ancient world. And therefore, when scientists found unusually thick layers of oxides of this metal in the Antarctic ice, they "blamed" Ancient Rome for this.

A lot of lead in the air meant that in those years the Roman Empire received a proportionate amount of silver, one of the indicators of the state of the economy. This is the period from 27 BC to 180 AD, known as the "Pax Romana", the era of the heyday and stability of the empire. But in the ice there were also the opposite traces of a sharp decrease in the concentration of lead, which corresponds to the times of epidemics, wars and other cataclysms. Therefore, research continues.