Here's a quicky news story from the Mysterytopia mystery news-clipping website.
Medieval bones from six different Danish cemeteries reveal that monks whoSo, if you do happen to get a chance to look at the VMs at the Beinecke, remember not to lick your fingers after handling pages with red paint on...
wrote Biblical texts and other religious materials may have been exposed to
toxic mercury, which was used to formulate just one of their ink colors:
You may possibly remember a similar monks-dying-with-black-tongues-and-a-black-finger schtick from Umberto Eco's "Name of the Rose". Doubtless our erudite semiotics professor friend lifted the idea from a nameless footnote somewhere in his personal Borgesian library: but all the same, it's nice to read about it for real, right?