(2023) mining, pollution, health

“Mining Activities, Public Health Strategies and Pollution Legacies in Europe, 1200-1600”

2023, Monash University, Australia

“Mining Activities, Public Health Strategies and Pollution Legacies in Europe, 1200-1600”, also affectionately referred to as “MAG23” by our members, was a short-term project funded by Monash University’s Health and Medical Research Accelerator grant (“Mining Accelerator Grant 2023”).

It brought together historians and (bio)archaeologists specialising in pre-industrial mining of different areas, to develop a multi-scalar comparative methodology for understanding health and pollution impacts and mitigation strategies for mining communities across Europe.

MAG23 built off frameworks of healthscaping developed by team members from both current and completed ARC and ERC projects, “Healthscaping Urban Europe” (2017-2022) and ” “Pursuing Public Health in the Preindustrial World” (2022-2026).


Our team members include:

Guy Geltner (Monash University, Australia)
Léa Hermenault (Universiteit Antwerp, Belgium)
Nicolas Minvielle Larousse (Ecole française de Rome, Italy)
Giovanna Bianchi (Università di Siena, Italy)
Luisa Dallai (Università di Siena, Italy)
Tina Asmussen (Ruhr-Universität Bochum and Deutsches Bergbau-Museum Bochum, Germany)
Sarah May (Monash University, Australia)
Kallum Robinson (Monash University, Australia)
Daniel Italia-Prasad (Monash University, Australia)
Cliara Joubert (Monash University, Malaysia)

Project Outputs:

1. We developed a relational spatial database collating research data on four preindustrial mining sites/ regions: Sala (Sweden), Brandes (France), Rocca San Silvestro (Italy), and the Harz Mountains (Germany). This database is housed on a Monash University server and can be further developed to provide comparative frameworks for mining sites across preindustrial Europe.

2. We ran two international hybrid workshops, in August and in November, to improve the schema of our database, to present our findings on pollution and health hazards and mitigation strategies of our mining communities, to receive feedback from experts, and to pivot our hypotheses and improve our research methodology.

3. We hired four research assistants, three of whom were undergraduate students, providing employment and training in digital humanities (QGIS) and opportunities to work with specialists to engage with primary source material in German, French, and Italian.

4. We are currently writing a journal article to be published in an environmental history journal.