Climate change now affecting ancient sites as microplastics found in soil samples

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Microplastics found in historic soil samples, alarming archaeologists. — York Archaelogy
Microplastics found in historic soil samples, alarming archaeologists. — York Archaelogy

In a groundbreaking study, historic soil samples have revealed the presence of microplastics, potentially challenging traditional methods of archaeological preservation.

Led by researchers from the University of York in the United Kingdom, a team unearthed microplastics in soil deposits buried over seven meters underground, dating back to the first or second century CE and excavated in the 1980s.

The study, published in "Championing Sustainability: Towards a Plastic-free Future", detected 16 different types of microplastic polymers in both contemporary and archived soil samples.

Microplastics, small but finite plastic particles less than 5 mm in size, come in existence as a result of micro-level fragmentation of bigger plastics – and this aspect is gaining the world’s attention.

Micro wearable pieces of plastics invisible to naked human eyes was used from beauty products in the past lets say 2020, which striked worries about the natural life and human health overall. Now, the archaeology needs to shift to new methods to define further these burials as well as their relationship with the ancient society.

While it became standard practice to retain archaeological remains at their original locations, microbeads as contaminants to these sites cannot be forgotten as it may cause misinterpretation of the data.

John Schofield, professor of the University of York’s Department of Archaeology stressed on the importance of this discovery even by looking at what all can be retrieved once the problems and the contaminated deposits are redone and appreciated.

David Jennings, the chief executive of York Archaeology, also expressed similar fears stating that microplastics might affect soil chemistry while posing an even damaging threat to organic materials being found in archaeological sites.