This here blog prefers to concentrate on news of Southwest US archaeology, but this recent article from The Atlantic is way too good to pass up. There are many implications for future research of animal and human remains in our own area, and how scientific findings may be interpreted in new and exciting ways. Submitted for your consideration:
Why a Medieval Woman Had Lapis Lazuli Hidden in her Teeth -
an analysis of dental plaque illuminates the forgotten history of female scribes
Archaeologists were examining 1000-year-old human remains from a burial in Germany. Specifically, they were analyzing dental plaque searching for clues to medieval nutrition and disease. What they found instead was evidence of highly skilled and educated women working with high-end materials to illuminate the most bespoke of religious texts.
From the article:
"...Some [art experts] dismissed the idea that a woman could have been a painter skilled enough to work with ultramarine. One suggested...that this woman came into contact with ultramarine because she was simply the cleaning lady."
Gosh. Wonder whether that art expert was a dude.
Similar points of view have been bandied about regarding whether Mimbreño men, or women, created the intricately decorated Style III black-on-white ceramics we all love. Some individuals of decades past insisted without evidence that only men had the skill and intellect to create such beauty. The discovery of one or more burials that revealed a female interred with her ceramics kit of pigments and tools, combined with known modern Pueblo traditions, strongly suggest that the most skilled Mimbreño potters were women.
Interestingly, the German nun with the expensive ultramarine/lapis lazuli powder in her teeth, lived during the same time as her Mimbreño sisters may have been illustrating their high-end black-on-white bowls.
Science is so cool.