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The ink that helped to write the history of our world

A number of species of wasp inject oaks with chemicals that hijack the normal growth processes in small sections of the tree. Instead of normal development, oddly shaped growths called galls occur, which are in fact nurseries for the wasps’ larvae. Some of the of galls can be crushed, mixed with iron sulphate, gum arabic and water, to create an effective indelible ink is created.

Some of the most important texts in western history – the Magna Carta, Newton’s scientific theories, Leonardo da Vinci’s drawings, Mozart’s music – were written in this oak derived ink.

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6 minutes

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