The Mystery Behind These Incredibly Intricate Boxwood Carvings From The 16th Century

These 16th-century boxwood carvings are so tiny researchers who study them view them using micro-CT scanning, advanced 3D analysis software, and X-rays.

The small, intricate boxes originated in the Netherlands around the 1500s and have since been a mystery to some researchers.

Religious pieces were often seen as a sign of wealth and class before the Reformation period where they went out of fashion quickly and were most likely carved at an exclusive workshop.

Researchers from the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO),  the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Rijksmuseum teamed up for an innovative exhibition to explore the pieces even further.

According to The History Blog, the collection of 12 boxwood carvings (10 prayer beads and two altarpieces) is the largest to be held in one place.

While exhibitions to view the pieces are done for the year, the AGO created a website dedicated to viewing the boxwood carvings up close (prepare to be mind blown when using their zoom tool).

Some parts of the sculptures are tinier than grass seed and researchers have even found traces of gold in some.

They think these miniatures were made between 1500 and 1530 in Flanders or the Netherlands

Researchers used micro-CT scanning and Advanced 3D Analysis Software

They found joints in the inner layers so tiny that only a microscope or an X-ray can detect them

The miniatures were a result of a rising new social class in Europe that created a demand for these high-quality portable religious carvings

However, soon the Reformation began and a lot of church-related accessories went out of fashion

You can check out the entire exhibit over at The Art Gallery of Ontario!

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