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A woman's work was sometimes blue



Anita Radini, archaeologist at University of York in England spends much time looking at Tartar. Really old tartar.

Tartar or plaque – this bacterial film that feels like sweaters on the teeth – contains a wealth of information about what has happened in his daily life long-dead individuals. Radini has seen all sorts of things included: leftovers, textile fibers, DNA, pollen, bacteria and even wings of small insects.

Some years ago, however, when he examined the plaque of a nun from medieval Germany. Radini saw something completely new: particles in bright blue. She showed Christina Warinner, another dental specialist, who was shocked.

"They looked like little robin eggs, they were so bright," Dr. Warinner, group leader of archaeogenetics at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Germany. "I remember being baffled."

The skeleton of B78 dates from 997 to 1162 AD. The nun was probably 45 to 60 years old when she died, and was buried in an unmarked grave near a nunnery in Dalheim, Germany. Historians know little about the place, as it was almost completely destroyed by fire in the 14th century.

Dr. Radini first noticed blue trails as she dipped a sample of B78 tartar into a faint acidic solution. Scientists use this method to dissolve calcified tartar to examine remaining food, pollen or other particles.

At that time, the blue pigment was "more valuable or valuable than the gold used for manuscripts," Dr. Only five percent of the lapis lazuli used in the production process are converted to pigment, and the material would have had to travel thousands of miles from trade routes to Europe.

The pigment probably landed on the woman's teeth using her mouth to mold her brush. The researchers found that ultramarine was present throughout the B78 tooth plaque, suggesting that she had painted many books in her lifetime.

"We seek to find sources that reflect the lives of women in the Middle Ages and are not influenced by the experiences or opinions of men about the lives of women," said Dr. Beach. "Well, we have direct evidence of what this woman did in everyday life – all because they did not brush their teeth."

"I have a new relationship with my sonicare now."


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