Saturday, December 14, 2013

Uses for Old Roman Lead

Thinking this morning about old and new things and the value of memory and discovery.

I read an article yesterday while waiting to have coffee with someone who was running late. It was essentially about the overlap of Physics and Archaeology. It was discussing 'old lead' and it's value and uses. Lead is very useful in shielding from radiation. That makes it a vital material for many types of equipment... especially for sensitive measurement equipment. Newly smelted lead however has a degree of radioactivity that fades over time but it takes a long time. The Romans used lead for a variety of things. Lead smelted 2,000 ago has approximately 100,000 times lower radioactive level than lead smelted last week if it was in a place shielded from other radiation like being deep under water. A sunken Roman vessel loaded with lead would be a great scientific find for an archaeologist and for the physics community.

The question then arises, 'Do you preserve history at the expense of scientific advancement?'. This is a rare man made material. It will always have archaeological significance but will have to be changed, modified or moved in some way to have it's other shielding properties utilized. The scientific communities have their own ways of dealing with these issues and they have not always handled them well but in the article I read it seemed like a good compromise was made. The physics community funded the recovery of a Roman vessel and removed the lead for scientific use while scrupulously documenting as much as they could using proper archaeological methods. An expensive undertaking was funded but part of the find was destroyed.

It made me think of the importance of finding a balance between preservation and discovery.

"Why are not times of judgment kept by the Almighty, and why do those who know him never see his days? Some move landmarks; they seize flocks and pasture them. They drive away the donkey of the fatherless; they take the widow's ox for a pledge. They thrust the poor off the road; the poor of the earth all hide themselves." - Job 24:1-4 ESV

"You shall not move your neighbor's landmark, which the men of old have set, in the inheritance that you will hold in the land that the LORD your God is giving you to possess." - Deuteronomy 19:14 ESV

"Do not move an ancient landmark or enter the fields of the fatherless" - Proverbs 23:10 ESV

There are old landmarks in life. Some take up expensive real estate but there are landmarks of the soul also... things we want to keep as they are so they can be remembered. Once the property line has been removed it becomes a free for all and in the end something is lost.

The question is what do you keep and how much. Some folks make everything a landmark and there is no room for anything new. Not everything old is an antique.

"He will shake off his unripe grape like the vine, and cast off his blossom like the olive tree." - Job 15:33 ESV

"Shake yourself from the dust and arise; be seated, O Jerusalem; loose the bonds from your neck, O captive daughter of Zion." - Isaiah 52:2 ESV

"See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, 'Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.' This phrase, "Yet once more," indicates the removal of things that are shaken - that is, things that have been made - in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe," - Hebrews 12:25-28 ESV

God has a plan to shake what He is able to shake. Eternal things are durable things. I don't want to discard those things.

The shaking away of the natural leaves room for the eternal.

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation." - 2 Corinthians 5:17-19 ESV

A soul is an eternal thing. It is durable and it is also a fertile place of discovery.

"For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" - Matthew 16:26 KJV

"The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, And he who wins souls is wise." - Proverbs 11:30 NKJV

Old lead has value to the archaeologist and the physicist. Eternal relationships preserve what should be preserved and propel us into the future.

"Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." - Luke 12:33-34 ESV


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