It is often thought, that air pollution is a product of modern “civilization”. The contrary is true. In particular indoor air pollution by hearth fires are going back into the first habitations in Paleolithic caves. The problem was rising through prehistory, as can be indirectly seen by the rising CO2 content of the atmosphere, preserved in the northern and southern ice shields.
In the ancient cities of the Near East including Anatolia, and the Mediterranean, both outdoor and indoor air pollution reached a first peak. People of all social classes were affected.
Dust rising from sandy areas and ploughed fields were affecting the airways of the peasants in the countryside, but also people living in the cities, and their peripheries. Dusts contained not only sand and soil particles, but also different micro-organisms, e.g. eggs of intestinal parasites, bacteria, and so on. Therefore, dust could have been a health hazard for rural and urban populations.
Paleopathology can contribute directly to determine the consequences for the human and animal body in the past. The upper airways, represented by the nose and the paranasal sinuses, are first affected by indoor and outdoor air pollution.
Diseases of the upper and lower airways were routinely recorded during the examination of the human remains from Hellenistic, Roman, and Byzantine Pergamon (Fig. 1), Elaia, and Aigai, as well as Byzantine Kyme, and Priene. They will be analyzed within this project.
Using recent data on dust and fumes exposure in traditional societies, and results of experimental archaeology from northern Europe, an exposure model will be created.
Academic education: Major: Pre- and Protohistoric Archaeology, Minors: Medical History, Physical Anthropology, Archaeology of the Near East, and Italian at University of Göttingen, and Sapienza Università di Roma.
PhD 1996 University of Göttingen, Habilitation 2006 University of Leipzig.
Since 2015 Researcher and Professor at LMU Munich.
Teaching: prehistoric archaeology and interdisciplinary seminars on the history of diseases. Research focus: osteoarchaeology and palaeopathology of humans and animals, funerary archaeology.
Author: Wolf-Rüdiger Teegen