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Archivists library found that cover three rare books on various historical topics was made from recycled materials.
The study of old books is difficult to name a dangerous occupation. However, this statement is true, if books are not covered by deadly arsenic. More recently, however, researchers Jacob affect our policies. Holk (Jakob Povl Holck) and Kaare Lund Rasmussen (Kaare Lund Rasmussen) from the University of southern Denmark stumbled on three of the poisoned book in my University library. All the finds date from the 16th and 17th centuries.
Chalk and Rasmussen tried to read an ancient text hidden inside the covers of three books. Earlier, the archivists of the library found that the covers of these books on various historical topics was made from recycled materials, namely medieval manuscript fragments — copies of Roman law and Canon law.
It is well known that the European bookbinders in the 16th and 17th centuries often re-used the old parchments. Meanwhile, archivists such manuscript fragments – a real treasure awaiting discovery.
Chalk and Rasmussen attempted to define Latin texts or, at least, read their contents, but a thick layer of green paint is not allowed to do it.
To "to cope with the obstacle" scientists used scanning method called x-ray fluorescence analysis. Technology is used to study the chemical elements of ancient ceramics, and antique paintings: with the help of x-rays are used to understand the chemical characteristics of the material.
At this time, the researchers hoped to use x-ray fluorescence analysis to identify the chemical elements of the ink under the paint and see if they can parse out the individual letters.
To their surprise, they found that the green layer of pigment was made from arsenic.
Recall that arsenic is a very toxic substance that can cause lead poisoning, cancer and even death. Depending on the type and duration of exposure, various symptoms of arsenic poisoning include abdominal pain, irritation of the intestine and lungs, nausea, diarrhea and skin rash. It is known that the poisonous properties of the arsenic does not weaken with time.
It is assumed that a green pigment containing arsenic, which was discovered on the covers of books, is Paris green.
As the scientists write in the publication of the Conversation, some may remember the fateful book of Aristotle, which plays a crucial role in the plot of the novel by Umberto Eco, 1980 "The name of the rose". Poisoned the mad monk, the book is wreaking havoc in the Italian monastery of the 14th century, killing all its readers, accidentally ablizovich fingers that they turned the poisoned page.
The authors note an interesting thing: the pigment was not used for aesthetic purposes, as the paint was applied to cover some parts of the books. Perhaps green paint were used to protect books from insects and parasites.
If we talk about risks, then "the real danger there" notes Chalk in an interview with Gizmodo. According to him, books were in storage, not freely available.
"They were carefully crafted before we even open" says Holk.
In order to keep the books, scientists put them into separate boxes (with warning signs), and now they are stored in a well-ventilated closet.
The next step is to digitize books in order to minimize the need "manual" work with them.
Despite the poison, Hulk adds that he was able to identify at least four of the Latin text hidden in the binding. However, this is due "with a keen eye, not just x-rays" that concludes the scientist.