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Lead pollution recorded in Greenland ice indicates European emissions tracked plagues, wars, and imperial expansion during antiquity

Overview of attention for article published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, May 2018
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  • In the top 5% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age (99th percentile)
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age and source (98th percentile)

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Title
Lead pollution recorded in Greenland ice indicates European emissions tracked plagues, wars, and imperial expansion during antiquity
Published in
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, May 2018
DOI 10.1073/pnas.1721818115
Pubmed ID
Authors

Joseph R. McConnell, Andrew I. Wilson, Andreas Stohl, Monica M. Arienzo, Nathan J. Chellman, Sabine Eckhardt, Elisabeth M. Thompson, A. Mark Pollard, Jørgen Peder Steffensen

Abstract

Lead pollution in Arctic ice reflects midlatitude emissions from ancient lead-silver mining and smelting. The few reported measurements have been extrapolated to infer the performance of ancient economies, including comparisons of economic productivity and growth during the Roman Republican and Imperial periods. These studies were based on sparse sampling and inaccurate dating, limiting understanding of trends and specific linkages. Here we show, using a precisely dated record of estimated lead emissions between 1100 BCE and 800 CE derived from subannually resolved measurements in Greenland ice and detailed atmospheric transport modeling, that annual European lead emissions closely varied with historical events, including imperial expansion, wars, and major plagues. Emissions rose coeval with Phoenician expansion, accelerated during expanded Carthaginian and Roman mining primarily in the Iberian Peninsula, and reached a maximum under the Roman Empire. Emissions fluctuated synchronously with wars and political instability particularly during the Roman Republic, and plunged coincident with two major plagues in the second and third centuries, remaining low for >500 years. Bullion in silver coinage declined in parallel, reflecting the importance of lead-silver mining in ancient economies. Our results indicate sustained economic growth during the first two centuries of the Roman Empire, terminated by the second-century Antonine plague.

Twitter Demographics

Twitter Demographics

The data shown below were collected from the profiles of 197 tweeters who shared this research output. Click here to find out more about how the information was compiled.
Mendeley readers

Mendeley readers

The data shown below were compiled from readership statistics for 245 Mendeley readers of this research output. Click here to see the associated Mendeley record.

Geographical breakdown

Country Count As %
Unknown 245 100%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Student > Ph. D. Student 52 21%
Researcher 35 14%
Professor 22 9%
Student > Bachelor 18 7%
Student > Master 17 7%
Other 46 19%
Unknown 55 22%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Earth and Planetary Sciences 35 14%
Environmental Science 32 13%
Arts and Humanities 22 9%
Chemistry 16 7%
Agricultural and Biological Sciences 13 5%
Other 54 22%
Unknown 73 30%
Attention Score in Context

Attention Score in Context

This research output has an Altmetric Attention Score of 821. This is our high-level measure of the quality and quantity of online attention that it has received. This Attention Score, as well as the ranking and number of research outputs shown below, was calculated when the research output was last mentioned on 22 September 2023.
All research outputs
#21,169
of 24,484,013 outputs
Outputs from Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
#645
of 101,239 outputs
Outputs of similar age
#462
of 331,899 outputs
Outputs of similar age from Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
#13
of 1,000 outputs
Altmetric has tracked 24,484,013 research outputs across all sources so far. Compared to these this one has done particularly well and is in the 99th percentile: it's in the top 5% of all research outputs ever tracked by Altmetric.
So far Altmetric has tracked 101,239 research outputs from this source. They typically receive a lot more attention than average, with a mean Attention Score of 38.6. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 99% of its peers.
Older research outputs will score higher simply because they've had more time to accumulate mentions. To account for age we can compare this Altmetric Attention Score to the 331,899 tracked outputs that were published within six weeks on either side of this one in any source. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 99% of its contemporaries.
We're also able to compare this research output to 1,000 others from the same source and published within six weeks on either side of this one. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 98% of its contemporaries.