Date of Award

Winter 12-15-2021

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



Paleo-environmental pollution is invested in both identifying anthropogenic activities and evaluating the environmental condition and its impact on humans to understand human-environment relationships and the human experience of the past. This project first investigates the environmental and health consequences of bronze production during the Shang period at Anyang. As a contribution to the growing scholarship in paleo-environmental and archaeological studies, this dissertation uses Shang bronze production in Anyang as a case study into how paleo- environmental pollution study can inform us about the on environmental and health conditions of lives in the Bronze Age China. Through geochemical analysis (ICP-MS, ICP-OES) of soil samples collected from different localities of the Shang Dynasty in Anyang, I investigate the condition in which severe metal pollution were released to the environment, and who were more vulnerable to that pollution based on their living and working environments. I demonstrate that bronze production workshop areas contain severe contamination of copper, lead, and tin in soil. This contamination caused by bronze production could cause hazards to the Shang bronze craftsmen as they worked and lived in the workshop areas. In addition, children who lived close to the workshop areas during Shang time were also threatened by these environmental pollutants. I then expand my focus to the methodology of paleo-environmental study. I review the current paleo-environment pollution research approach and argue that local paleo-environmental records collected at archaeological sites are more optimal in reflecting the environmental pollution of the Bronze Age, compared to offsite paleoenvironmental records. In addition, local paleo- environmental records can provide us with high-resolution information to study human experience at the individual level.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Tristram R. Kidder

Committee Members

Xinyi Liu

Included in

Geochemistry Commons