Lead Use on Roman Ships and its Environmental Effects



Underwater surveys along the Israeli coast have yielded numerous lead artefacts recovered from Roman shipwrecks, found due to sand shortage caused by nature and man. Unique site-formation processes resulted in intact and preserved assemblages of lead artefacts unaffected by prior salvage. These included hull sheathing, anchors, fishing gear, cooking equipment and containers. Most lead was in objects intended only for nautical use. The finds indicate that people on board ships were exposed to more lead than the general Roman population. Thus the Roman ship was a mobile source of lead pollution contaminating people and the marine environment.

© 2007 The Authors