Home Health News Medieval German Woman May Have Helped Produce Manuscripts – Archaeology

Medieval German Woman May Have Helped Produce Manuscripts – Archaeology

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JENA, GERMANY—Particles of ultramarine have been detected in dental calculus on the lower jaw of a woman who was buried near a women’s monastery in western Germany some 1,000 years ago, according to a Live Science report. The woman was between the ages of 45 and 60 when she died, and her skeleton showed no signs of prolonged physical labor. Ultramarine, a rare and expensive pigment made from lapis lazuli mined in Afghanistan, was only used to color the finest illuminated manuscripts during the medieval period, explained historian Alison Beach of Ohio State University. In addition, Monica Tromp of the Max Planck Institute for Science of Human History said the presence of the pigment on the woman’s remains could indicate that she worked as a scribe. Perhaps she licked her brush to draw it into a point, or maybe she prepared the pigment for a scribe or artist, and inhaled the blue dust while grinding lapis lazuli into powder. For more on the uses of blue pigments in the past, go to “Hidden Blues.”

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