Lore of the Jungle: unearthing treasures from the Calais camp

A new exhibition tells the human stories of the infamous refugee camp through the objects created, used and discarded there.

Sarah Mallet calls herself a “normal” archaeologist. An expert on how English diets changed between the iron age and the medieval period, she is a member of a discipline whose bread-and-butter work might involve recording and dating, say, Saxon fibulae. But today, at Pitt Rivers anthropological museum in Oxford, she is holding out for inspection not of an ancient coin or a shard of prehistoric pottery, but a decidedly modern teargas canister.

“I’ve recorded quite a few of these,” she says. “This one’s dated 2009, which means it must have been out of date by the time it was used. Some of the ones I’ve seen as are old as 1998 – and teargas gets more potent over time. There are a lot from 2015 and 2016.”

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