I woke up one morning with an idea for a short story. I drafted it out, and thought it would work, but I needed to check one thing. Did human flesh keep an impression of something that hit it? And would it be enough to identify a weapon with an unusual pattern engraved on it?
Long-Suffering Husband has a background in Chemistry and enthusiastically helped me to design a simple experiment. (The Internet helped a bit too)
First, we picked a “weapon” – this keyring medallion showing the Tree of Life was ideal.
Next, we decided on material – my husband’s forearm (live flesh) and a special offer, ready to roast chicken (dead flesh) courtesy our local Spar.
We locked the cats away from the chicken and washed everything.
We decided that my husband would press the tree of life disc first against his arm, then against the chicken, trying to replicate the force used.
Here’s the chicken…
… and here is my husband’s forearm.
No question of it – his arm had a much better imprint, with the chicken showing just the outer ring, and that only if you squinted.
Phase two of the experiment was to see if we could make the pattern stand out a little more using material available in the ancient world – soot!
Holding a smooth glazed mug in a candle flame produced a sooty smear which when rolled against the chicken or the man would show up the pattern better, surely?
Well, the chicken did not improve much, but the pattern on the arm suddenly sprang to life in a very satisfying manner.
Living flesh held the imprint, dead flesh did not, though the outline of the medallion was clear.
We then washed everything and everyone down again, let the cats in, and roasted the chicken. It was delicious.
The next day, I wrote a short story in which the imprint of the weapon was the deciding factor in catching the killer.
Note: no husbands were harmed in the course of this experiment