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Diatoms on the hair of Holy Mary-Magdalene relics

Abstract : Remains of corroded diatoms were found on one strand of hair from the relics of Holy Mary-Magdalene. It was initially hypothesized that they could be tracers of her living environment, the cave of La Sainte-Baume reputed to be the place of her thirty-year retreat before she died. To validate this assumption, ten samples collected in the cave of La Sainte-Baume from moist parietal surfaces and pool waters were investigated. Some biological remnants were found in the samples. No evidence of the presence of the diatom species from the hair in the cave’s environment led to reject this hypothesis. The highly corroded status of the hair diatoms, their likely paleo-origin together with their association with mineral and organic material, rather argue for cosmetic use of diatom-rich material, such as cleaning clays traditionally used in the Mediterranean region and Africa for hair care.
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Contributor : Soizic Morin <>
Submitted on : Tuesday, June 2, 2020 - 12:53:03 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, June 29, 2021 - 12:34:01 PM




Soizic Morin, François Straub, Raphaël Weil, Philippe Charlier. Diatoms on the hair of Holy Mary-Magdalene relics. Botany Letters, Taylor & Francis, In press, pp.1-7. ⟨10.1080/23818107.2020.1768892⟩. ⟨hal-02733663⟩



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