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Ancient Maya cities were dangerously contaminated with mercury


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Posted (IP: Staff) ·

The cities of the ancient Maya in Mesoamerica never fail to impress. But beneath the soil surface, an unexpected danger lurks there: mercury pollution. In a review article in Frontiers in Environmental Science, researchers conclude that this pollution isn't modern: it's due to the frequent use of mercury and mercury-containing products by the Maya of the Classic Period, between 250 and 1100 CE. This pollution is in places so heavy that even today, it pose a potential health hazard for unwary archeologists.

Lead author Dr. Duncan Cook, an associate professor of Geography at the Australian Catholic University, said: "Mercury pollution in the environment is usually found in contemporary urban areas and industrial landscapes. Discovering mercury buried deep in soils and sediments in ancient Maya cities is difficult to explain, until we begin to consider the archeology of the region which tells us that the Maya were using mercury for centuries."

https://phys.org/news/2022-09-ancient-maya-cities-dangerously-contaminated.html

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