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Stains of blue on old teeth Reveal a medieval surprise

(newser) –They couldn't figure out the blue. Researchers studying tartar from the teeth of medieval skeletons hoped to learn one or two of the medieval diets. But when they put their teeth and jaw on a woman under a microscope, they were surprised to see hundreds of small spots of blue, the BBC reports. After much enchantment they turned out that the blue came from lapis lazuli, a rare and expensive stone land for powder to make dye for holy manuscripts. Human monks have usually received the most credit for working with such texts, but the amount of lapis lazuli in the woman's mouth indicates that she &#821 1; and probably other women – was also at work. The researchers' best guess is that the blue spots ended up in the teeth because she was placing the tip of her brush in her mouth, the AP reports. "It's kind of a bombshell for my field – it's so rare to find material evidence of women's artistic and literary works in the Middle Ages," said Alison Beach of Ohio State University, a professor of medieval history and co-author of the report in Science Advances. Another possibility is that the woman was breathing in lapis lazuli, known as ultramarine in its powder form, while preparing it for someone else, note the Atlantic . The woman was found buried under an old cemetery in Germany and was probably a nun, researchers say. She lived between 997 and 1162AD and probably died about 60…


(newser)

They couldn’t figure out the blue. Researchers studying tartar from the teeth of medieval skeletons hoped to learn one or two of the medieval diets. But when they put their teeth and jaw on a woman under a microscope, they were surprised to see hundreds of small spots of blue, the BBC reports. After much enchantment they turned out that the blue came from lapis lazuli, a rare and expensive stone land for powder to make dye for holy manuscripts. Human monks have usually received the most credit for working with such texts, but the amount of lapis lazuli in the woman’s mouth indicates that she &#821

1; and probably other women – was also at work. The researchers’ best guess is that the blue spots ended up in the teeth because she was placing the tip of her brush in her mouth, the AP reports.

“It’s kind of a bombshell for my field – it’s so rare to find material evidence of women’s artistic and literary works in the Middle Ages,” said Alison Beach of Ohio State University, a professor of medieval history and co-author of the report in Science Advances. Another possibility is that the woman was breathing in lapis lazuli, known as ultramarine in its powder form, while preparing it for someone else, note the Atlantic . The woman was found buried under an old cemetery in Germany and was probably a nun, researchers say. She lived between 997 and 1162AD and probably died about 60 years. “For a medieval historian, this kind of clear material evidence of something from an individual’s life is so extraordinary,” says Beach. (Read more discoveries stories.)

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