Technology: Rare blue pigment found in medieval woman's teeth rewrites history - PressFrom - US
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TechnologyRare blue pigment found in medieval woman's teeth rewrites history

23:20  09 january  2019
23:20  09 january  2019 Source:   cnn.com

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The discovery of a rare , expensive blue pigment in the dental plaque of a medieval woman ' s skeleton is shedding light on hidden chapter of history There are few records of the monastery itself because it was destroyed in a fire after a series of nearby battles during the 14th century, but written records

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Rare blue pigment found in medieval woman's teeth rewrites history© Christina Warinner/Max Planck Institute Lapis lazuli pigment entrapped within the dental calculus on the lower jaw of a medieval woman.

The discovery of a rare, expensive blue pigment in the dental plaque of a medieval woman's skeleton is shedding light on hidden chapter of history, according to a study published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances.

Researchers studied burial remains from a medieval cemetery connected with a women's monastery in Germany, where they believe a women's community existed as early as the 10th century.

There are few records of the monastery itself because it was destroyed in a fire after a series of nearby battles during the 14th century, but written records there date to 1244.

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Rare blue pigment found in medieval womans teeth rewrites history CNN Read more Any violation of policy, community guidelines, copyright law or business

However, the discovery of a blue -stained tooth in the corpse of a medieval nun has left historians particularly excited about the possible implications. Further analysis revealed that the blue flecks were actually lapis lazuli, a rare and vibrant blue pigment found only in an area of Afghanistan.

The researchers were studying a skeleton of a woman who was estimated to be between 45 and 60 years old when she died sometime between 997 and 1162. The skeleton itself was unremarkable, with no visible signs of trauma or infection.

But blue flecks were embedded in her teeth. Multiple spectrographic analyses revealed the blue pigment to be ultramarine, a rare pigment made from crushed lapis lazuli stones. It was as expensive as gold at the time, mined from a single region in Afghanistan and the ultimate luxury trade good then.

Ultramarine and gold leaf would have been used to create illustrated illuminated manuscripts and luxury books in monasteries, mostly for other religious institutions and the nobility. Only the most skilled artists were allowed to use them because of their cost.

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Tiny bits of blue pigment found in the teeth of a medieval skeleton reveal that more than 850 years ago, this seemingly ordinary It' s a rare example of a manuscript signed by a female scribe. Frankfurt University Library. Warinner reached out to Alison Beach, a professor of medieval history at Ohio

Published January 10. Mysterious blue pigment in medieval woman ' s teeth gives scientists A thousand years ago, women weren't known for writing or painting with the coveted stone, though a "It's kind of a bombshell for my field — it's so rare to find material evidence of women ' s artistic and

That the discovery was made in a rural German monastery is no surprise; books were being produced during this time in monasteries across the country. But women were not known to be the illustrators of such prized creations.

"Only scribes and painters of exceptional skill would have been entrusted with its use," said Alison Beach, study co-author and historian at Ohio State University, in a statement.

In fact, the writers and illustrators often didn't sign their work, as a gesture of humility -- and if women were those writers and artists, the practice would effectively erase them from history. Monks were often assumed to be scribes over nuns.

Rare blue pigment found in medieval woman's teeth rewrites history© Monica Tromp/Max Planck Institute Magnified view of lapis lazuli particles embedded within medieval dental calculus.

The study says that even books found in the libraries of women's monasteries have fewer than 15% of female names on them, and before the 12th century, that number drops to fewer than 1%.

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A rare blue pigment , discovered in the fossilized plaque of a German nun, hints at a broader role for The finding upends the conventional assumption that medieval European women were not much The pigment likely ended up on the woman ’ s teeth as she used her mouth to shape her paintbrush.

Why a Medieval Woman Had Lapis Lazuli Hidden in Her Teeth : There' s a hidden reason why Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wore a white jumpsuit to her And so these embedded blue particles in her teeth illuminate a forgotten history of medieval manuscripts: Not just monks made them.

But a few rare surviving works from as early as the eighth century reveal that women were scribes.

The researchers considered multiple scenarios for how the woman might have come into contact with the pigment. But only one seemed truly viable.

"Based on the distribution of the pigment in her mouth, we concluded that the most likely scenario was that she was herself painting with the pigment and licking the end of the brush while painting," said Monica Tromp, study co-author and microbioarchaeologist at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, in a statement.

Rare blue pigment found in medieval woman's teeth rewrites history© Christina Warinner/Max Planck Institute During the European Middle Ages, Afghanistan was the only known source of the rare blue stone, lapis lazuli. Lapis lazuli contains different minerals that contribute to its unique appearance, including lazurite (blue), phlogopite (white), and pyrite (gold).

In fact, given the destruction at the site due to the fire, this woman's skeleton may be the only record of the activity at the monastery.

"She was plugged into a vast global commercial network stretching from the mines of Afghanistan to her community in medieval Germany through the trading metropolises of Islamic Egypt and Byzantine Constantinople," Michael McCormick, study co-author and historian at Harvard University, said in a statement. "The growing economy of 11th century Europe fired demand for the precious and exquisite pigment that traveled thousands of miles via merchant caravan and ships to serve this woman artist's creative ambition."

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Why a Medieval Woman Had Lapis Lazuli Hidden in Her Teeth : Fossil of prehistoric deer found in Argentina The well-preserved fossil of a © Christina Warinner This set of teeth had a secret hidden in the tartar. If pigments can be preserved in tartar—the gunky yellow stuff on teeth that dental plaque

A new study posits the woman was licking brushes covered with pigments of lapis lazuli, a rare and [I]t’s so rare to find material evidence of women ’ s artistic and literary work in the Middle Ages.” The blue particles embedded in B78’ s teeth offer further evidence to suggest that women were involved

Rare blue pigment found in medieval woman's teeth rewrites history© Christina Warinner/Max Planck Institute Foundations of the church associated with a medieval women's religious community at Dalheim, Germany.

There was little evidence for physical labor in her skeleton, which aligns with the understanding that German women in medieval monastic communities were often highly educated aristocrats or nobles.

"Here we have direct evidence of a woman, not just painting, but painting with a very rare and expensive pigment, and at a very out-of-the way place," said Christina Warinner, senior study author and anthropologist at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, in a statement. "This woman's story could have remained hidden forever without the use of these techniques. It makes me wonder how many other artists we might find in medieval cemeteries -- if we only look."

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