January 12, 2019

Cool Blue – Ultramarine

Most of us have heard of Ultramarine Blue. Maybe you’re a pantone nerd, an artist or perhaps it was just your favourite Laurentian pencil crayon in elementary school. Either way, it’s a beautiful blue that was historically achieved through grinding up a rare and very valuable pigment called lapis lazuli found only in a remote region of Afghanistan.


Cut to today, scientists were studying ancient remains for oral bacteria DNA and trying to obtain clues to diet and lifestyle by examining preserved tartar.  When examining a medieval nun they found blue particles embedded in her teeth which has caused much excitement among historians who study religious manuscripts because it was previously held that only the most trusted men had scribed books important enough to contain a valuable pigment such as this.

The discovery suggests women’s roles in painting and scribing important texts may have been more involved than previously thought, and has opened up new areas of archaeology in the study of plaque. how cool.

I think the neatest thing about this story, is that the discovery was quite accidental, and the resolution to the mystery involved several experts in the fields of science, archeaology and medieval history around the world.

Another Intersection of Design & History

Read the whole article here. It’s really interesting: https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2019/01/the-woman-with-lapis-lazuli-in-her-teeth/579760/

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January 12, 2019


Nicole Scott

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