Anthropogenic impact and lead pollution throughout the Holocene in southern Iberia
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): Antonio García-Alix; Francisco J. Jiménez-Espejo; Juan Andrés Lozano; Gonzalo Jiménez-Moreno; Francisca Martínez-Ruiz; Leonardo García Sanjuán; G. A. Jimenez; E. G. Alfonso; G. Ruiz-Puertas; R. S. Anderson
Publication Year: 2013

Cataloging Information

  • anthropogenic environmental impact
  • charcoal
  • deforestation
  • erosion
  • Europe
  • fire management
  • fire regimes
  • Late Prehistory
  • lead pollution
  • metallurgy
  • paleoecology
  • pollution
  • soil management
  • southern Iberia
  • Spain
  • toxicity
  • International
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: April 11, 2019
FRAMES Record Number: 51633
Tall Timbers Record Number: 28561
TTRS Location Status: Not in file
TTRS Call Number: Available
TTRS Abstract Status: Fair use, Okay, Reproduced by permission

This bibliographic record was either created or modified by the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy and is provided without charge to promote research and education in Fire Ecology. The E.V. Komarek Fire Ecology Database is the intellectual property of the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy.


Present day lead pollution is an environmental hazard of global proportions. A correct determination of natural lead levels is very important in order to evaluate anthropogenic lead contributions. In this paper, the anthropogenic signature of early metallurgy in Southern Iberia during the Holocene, more specifically during the Late Prehistory, was assessed by mean of a multiproxy approach: comparison of atmospheric lead pollution, fire regimes, deforestation, mass sediment transport, and archeological data. Although the onset of metallurgy in Southern Iberia is a matter of controversy, here we show the oldest lead pollution record from Western Europe in a continuous paleoenvironmental sequence, which suggests clear lead pollution caused by metallurgical activities since ~3900 cal BP (Early Bronze Age). This lead pollution was especially important during Late Bronze and Early Iron ages. At the same time, since ~4000 cal BP, an increase in fire activity is observed in this area, which is also coupled with deforestation and increased erosion rates. This study also shows that the lead pollution record locally reached near present-day values many times in the past, suggesting intensive use and manipulation of lead during those periods in this area. © 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Online Link(s):
Garcia-Alix, A. et al. 2013. Anthropogenic impact and lead pollution throughout the Holocene in southern Iberia. Science of the Total Environment, v. 449, p. 451-460. 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2013.01.081.