Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Answer Lies Within...

This week's mystery artifact received a lot of guesses on so many different media! We heard from those who thought is was a woodworking tool, a nut pick for removing stubborn nutmeats, a spoon for snuff or cocaine and even a gunpowder loading spoon.  Thanks Penny, Jess and Jenn for your guesses!  Before I reveal the answer, let me just tell you that our Mystery Artifact this week is intimately connected to a little known substance called cerumen. No,that is not a character from Star Trek.   Cerumen is an antimicrobial substance naturally produced by your body. Guessed it yet? You might call these little instruments cerumen harvesters if you were so inclined. They are:

EAR SPOONS! (and cerumen is ear wax). Look inside the ear to see where ear wax is stored.

Man, with a glob of ear wax like that I think you might want to harvest it.

Thanks Penny and Jenn for your correct guesses. (And thanks Penny for your comment, ICK!).

Ears build up cerumen to protect themselves from fungi, bacteria, insects and even your dirty fingers! All the best advice (today) is to NOT PUT ANYTHING IN YOUR EARS.

Why would you want ear wax so badly? Well, medieval illuminators used their ear wax added to the gesso to make the right consistency for their gold paint!

And frugal housewives of the 19th century (I kid you not) said ear wax was a great salve for puncture wounds and --get this--for chapped lips!  Women also used ear wax to wax their thread to make it glide more smoothly through the needle's eye and the fabric which they sewed.

If you haven't read the Frugal Housewife, now is the time to start! There are all kinds of amazing tips in here.

Finally, be happy be happy that your earwax comes out!  Whales never get rid of their ear wax and sometimes it's the only reliable way to tell the age of a whale (by how much he/she has!).  Yikes, that is a lot of ear wax. Wonder how big that ear wax spoon would have to be? 

OK. Happy Readers. That's it for this week's Mystery Artifact. Stay tuned. More soon.


OH MY GOSH. Two posts today made us think of last week's mystery artifact.:

First an article on NPR about whale ear wax

and this on how to clean out your ears from one of our favorite blogs, Ask the Past.

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