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Archaeology Magazine

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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Lives of Oxford’s Medieval Students Revealed

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Oxford friary studentsOXFORD, ENGLAND—The Independent reports that artifacts dating back 700 years offer a window into the lives of students at a medieval Franciscan friary. The excavation recovered writing implements, such as quills, styluses, a rare pencil made of lead, parchment prickers, and vellum scissors; cutlery with iron blades and bone and wood handles; iron spoons, beer mugs, jugs, and Spanish amphoras that likely held imported wine; oil lamps, bronze book marks, and a clasp from a thirteenth-century book; and a wooden ball thought to have been used to play games. Food remains suggest the students and teachers ate pottages of vegetables and wheat, barley, oats, and rye; and beef, lamb, goose, salmon, trout, herring, eel, oysters, mussels, nuts, and eggs. Glass bottles thought to have been used for collecting urine for medical examination were also found, along with a small wooden bowl that may have been used for bloodletting. Christian religious objects include a pilgrim badge from a visit to Thomas Becket’s tomb in Canterbury, a pendant depicting the crucifixion, and tiny containers that may have held sacramental oil. For more, go to “The Curse of a Medieval English Well.”

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