Tuesday, January 23, 2007

"That presents one of the great dangers of archaeology. . .not to life and limb although that. . . sometimes does occur. . ."
Ancient Iraqi Art Determined Poisonous

Some ninth century Iraqi artists may have literally died for their art, suggests new analysis of Iraqi stucco fragments from this period. A fragment, taken from the ancient palace-city of Samarra, contains three arsenic-based pigments that are known to be poisonous and may cause cancer upon exposure.

Although the findings will not be published until May in the Journal of Archaeological Science, curators at London's Victoria and Albert Museum, where the fragments are housed, have already taken special handling precautions.