The intricate illumination of medieval monasteries was traditionally thought to be the work of monks.
But blue pigment found in the dental plaque of an 11th century nun suggests that women were also the artists behind some of Europe’s most precious books.
Scientists discovered tiny traces of ultramarine paint trapped in the teeth of a female skeleton buried within the grounds of a monastery at Dalheim, in Germany.
The pigment is made from the precious stone lapis lazuli, which was only mined in Afghanistan in the medieval period. It was more expensive than fold so only the most skilled and trusted scribes and painters were allowed to use the material.
Muphry’s Law. A piece about medieval copyists contains a typo.