An Elizabethan pharmacy jar from Paul Street

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An Elizabethan pharmacy jar from Paul Street

An exciting discovery made during the excavations prior to the building of the Harlequin Shopping Centre was a rich deposit of Elizabethan glass and pottery. Among the finds was this splendid near-complete pharmaceutical jar, designed for the storage of wet drugs. The vessel is an example of tin-glazed pottery, with its characteristic white glaze and bright decoration in blues, yellows, reds and greens. The style of the vessel indicates that it was made at Antwerp in Belgium; a few similar examples are known bearing dates in the period 1575-1580. In a world with few effective pain-killers and limited medical knowledge, the contents of jars such as this offered a range of medicines from the effective to the downright dangerous.

Acknowledgments: RAM Museum Exeter Archaeology

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