Mario Novak

Grant Type

Post PhD Research Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Institute for Anthropological Research

Grant number

Gr. 10476

Approve Date

April 6, 2023

Project Title

Novak, Mario (Institute for Anthropological Research) "Heavy metal: Rural and urban lead exposure during the Roman Empire"

This project will examine the role of lead poisoning in rural and urban settlements within the Roman province of Dalmatia (Croatia). Scholarship surrounding the role of lead poisoning in the dissolution of the Roman Empire has generally focused on historical sources detailing the use of lead. This project will analyze the bones and teeth of non-adults to get a better picture on the role of lead in explaining the high amounts of pathologies in cemetery assemblages of this age group in Dalmatia. It will use a combination of chemical testing and macroscopic paleopathological analysis to answer the following questions: (i) is there a correlation between lead levels within dental samples of non-adults and pathological bone changes at a regional level?; (ii) is there a differential exposure to lead between rural and urban sites?; (iii) does a difference in lead exposure between rural and urban sites translate to a lessened correlation with pathological changes? This project will bring together prior research on rural/suburban/urban lived experience, research on the impacts of lead exposure and its correlation to skeletal lesions to understand how different groups may have had different exposures to lead and how they may have mitigated the impacts of lead poisoning.