Researchers may have found first polluted river from before Bronze Age

Industrial pollution may seem like a modern phenomenon, but in fact, an international team of researchers may have discovered what could be the world’s first polluted river, contaminated approximately 7,000 years ago.

In this now-dry riverbed in the Wadi Faynan region of southern Jordan, Professor Russell Adams, from the Department of Anthropology at the University of Waterloo, and his colleagues found evidence of early pollution caused by the combustion of copper. Neolithic humans here may have been in the early stages of developing metallurgy by learning how to smelt.

The research findings, published in Science of the Total Environment, shed light on a turning point in history, when humans began moving from making tools out of stones to making tools out of metal. This period, known as the Chalcolithic or Copper Age, is a transitional period between the late Neolithic or Stone Age and the beginning of the Bronze Age. Read more.

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Kishanganga river in the Gurais valley, Kashmir

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[Silent Tongue’s producer Carolyn Pfeiffer on River].