Poisoned books from the 16th and 17th centuries. found in the university library

Poisoned books from the 16th and 17th centuries. found in a university library

Three books dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries have been found in the library collection of the University of Southern Denmark, whichówhose pages were covered with poisonous arsenic compounds. Poison on the pages of the volumeów was detected by conducting a series of X-ray microfluorescence (micro-XRF) analyses.

Books, whichóre contain toxic compounds, are two historical works – "Anglica Historia" by Polydorus Vergilius from 1570 and the "History of the Boiemic" Johannes Dubravius from 1575, whichóra is related to „Æneas Sylvius: De Bohemorum et ex his imperatorum aliqvot origine ac gestis historia” from the same year. The third poisoned book is "Vitæ Patrum Das ist: Das Leben der Altväter, Zu nutz Den Predigern Göttliches Worts” from 1604 by Georg Maior.

Library staff discovered fragments of old manuscriptsóin, such as copies of „Roman law” i „Canon law”, hidden in the covers of Renaissance works. Bookbinders of the period used them to stiffen the bindings of the volumeów. Jakob Povl Holck and prof. Kaare Lund Rasmussen wanted to check whether the three books mentioned were bound using a similar method. In this wayób books found their way into the detailedół analysis in the X-ray laboratory.

Micro-XRF technology displays the chemical spectrum of a material, analyzing the characteristic "wtórne" The radiation emitted by the material during high-energy X-ray bombardment. Micro-XRF technology is widely used in archaeology and the arts, for example in chemical research elementóIn pottery and imageów.

Rasmussen, in an interview with Fox News, admitted that after the Danish Reformation, many Catholic books were destroyed. Someóre were burned, others were discarded, and some were parchmentedów was used to stiffen the bindings of the new books.

– PróWe were able to identify the Latin texts or at least read some of theóre of their content. But it turned out that the texts in the covers of the three volumes of theów were difficult to read because of the extensive layer of green paint, whichóra obscures old handwritten letters. So we took them to the lab. The idea was to filter the ink layer and focus on the chemical elements of the ink below, such as iron and calcium, in the hope that the letters would be more legible – explained the researchers on „The Conversation”.

The results of the analysis came as a surprise. The green layer turned out to contain arsenic compounds. This chemical element is among the most toxic substances in the world, and contact with it can lead to rótive symptomsóin poisoning, the development of cancer and even death. Importantly, time does not reduce the toxicity of the compound.

Arsenic pigment is easy to make and cheap to produce. It was once widely used for many purposesów. Primarily, it was included in paints and dyesów – so-called. Paris green. It was valued for its color intensity and resistance to fading. It was used in painting, but róit also dyed clothing.

However, the researchers believe that in the case of the books, the pigment was not used for aesthetic purposes. They also ruled out options that someone deliberately naniósalts on the pages of books poison to murder people. According to them, the Paris green was used, as protection against insects and pests.

SourceóSource: The Conversation, Fox News, photo. Southern Denmark University