Archaeologists have discovered evidence of massive mercury poisoning in antiquity

(ORDO NEWS) –Researchers at the University of Seville investigated cases of mass mercury poisoning in bygone eras. Today, liquid metal, whose vapors are harmful to health, is considered one of the most dangerous substances in the world. However, our ancestors did not know about this.

A team led by Stephen Emsley analyzed 370 ancient burial sites at 23 locations in Spain and Portugal. The collected data cover five thousand years – from the Neolithic to ancient times, according to the International Journal of Osteoarcheology.

The greatest number of poisonings occurred in the Bronze Age (2900-2600 BC). Then people widely used cinnabar – mercury sulfide, which, when ground, gives a bright red powder. Historically, cinnabar has been used as a pigment for making paints. It covered decorative items, cult tools and even the bodies of the dead.

In the hair from the burials, scientists recorded an abnormally large proportion of mercury – 400 parts per million instead of the “ordinary” two. According to archaeologists, shortly before their death, these people could inhale mercury vapor or eat cinnabar for esoteric purposes.

Earlier in Israel, a ring with an amethyst, “saving” from a hangover, was unearthed.

 

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