Blue Pigment In A Fossilized Tooth Traced To Medieval Woman's Work : Shots - Health News - NPR
Npr.org - Wed 9 Jan 20:10 GMT

Blue Pigment In A Fossilized Tooth Traced To Medieval Woman's Work : Shots - Health News - NPR

Analysis of fossilized dental tartar of a medieval woman buried in a German monastery reveals specks of blue to be lapis lazuli — a luxurious pigment used to create gorgeous illuminated manuscripts.

  Tiny bits of blue pigment found in the teeth of a medieval skeleton reveal that, more than 850 years ago, this seemingly ordinary woman likely was involved in the production of lavishly illustrated sacred texts.

  "Once it all came together that this was lapis lazuli, and this was a woman, and she was in this kind of small, remote place, really far away from where this lapis lazuli would have come from or been traded from, it was pretty extraordinary."

  But Beach says it's just impossible to know how widespread women's participation was, because many libraries of Medieval books have been lost to history.

  The researchers considered various explanations for how the blue pigment ended up in the woman's teeth.

  "You'd have to be doing a lot of kissing of a book over a lot of time to get that much lapis lazuli pigment," Beach says.