The discovery challenges previous assumptions that medieval bookmaking was the work of monks alone.
A team of researchers and archaeologists have found evidence that suggests women were more frequently involved in the laborious task of manuscript production in the Middle Ages than was previously believed. The study utilized new technology to examine the dental plaque on the nearly 1,000-year-old remains of a nun.
When co-author Anita Radini took a closer look at the tartar built up on the teeth of the remains, exhumed from a women’s monastery in Dalheim, Germany, she noticed brilliant blue specks embedded throughout. She identified the particles of blue pigment to be lapis lazuli, a semi-precious stone that was the primary source of blue in medieval paintings.