University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Welcome to the Penn Museum blog. First launched in January 2009, the Museum blog now has over 800 posts covering a range of topics in the categories of Museum, Collection, Exhibitions, Research, and By Location. Here you’ll hear directly from our staff and Penn students about their work, research, experiences, and discoveries. To explore a topic of interest, please use the Blog Search function.


Roman Oinochoe [Object of the Day #66]

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By: Alyssa Kaminski

  This Roman oinochoe dates around 350 CE. An oinochoe is a wine jug usually made from ceramic materials. Although the Romans had nothing to do with the invention of glass, which occurred around 2200 BCE in northwestern Iran, they did play a primary role in the industrialization of the glassmaking process in the Mediterranean world […]

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Standing Buddha [Object of the Day #65]

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By: Alyssa Kaminski

This haloed Buddha was made in the ancient city of Gandhara in modern day Pakistan/Afghanistan in the 2nd Century AD. He stands on a plinth carved with two rosettes. His missing hands would have been held in mudras or hand gestures representing reassurance and wish fulfillment. The style of the flowing robe and curvy hair is […]

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Effigy Vessel [Object of the Day #64]

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By: Alyssa Kaminski

This is a red ware ceramic vessel with red and white paint. It is in the shape of a warrior kneeling on his left knee and grasping a war club with both hands. He wears a short skirt and a sleeveless shirt which are both fringed and spotted. On his head is an elaborate headdress worn […]

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Puteoli Marble Block [Object of the Day #62]

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By: Alyssa Kaminski

The Puteoli Marble Block is an example of material reused and repurposed.  Initially, the block was carved with a framed inscription and was part of a larger monument to the Roman emperor Domitian. The monument was erected by the town of Puteoli (modern Pozzuoli), near Naples, in thanks to the emperor, probably for a new road.   After […]

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Spirit Spouse Sculpture [Object of the Day #55]

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By: Alyssa Kaminski

The statue represents a Spirit Wife. In Baule culture, both men and women are thought to have spirit spouses, supernatural husbands and wives that must be cherished before accepting a human husband or wife. A Spirit Wife is known as a Bloto Bla and a Spirit Husband is called a Bloto Bain. In order to appease […]

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Clovis Projectile Point [Object of the Day #54]

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By: Alyssa Kaminski

Above, is an image of a Clovis Projectile Point, a type of arrowhead found commonly in the United States Southwest. The name Clovis comes from Clovis, New Mexico, where these projectile points were first discovered buried amid extinct bison bones. The Clovis Projectile Point is characterized by it’s chipping. The maker would overlap flaking by […]

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Moroccan Tablet [Object of the Day #51]

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By: Alyssa Kaminski

This thin, wooden board is a tablet used in Koranic schools to practice writing. An Abrahamic prayer is written across the tablet in Arabic. The tablet has a hole at the top center that is drawn with a string to hang it on the wall. Tablets like these often have Koranic verses inscribed on them. […]

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Brazilian Pot [Object of the Day #48]

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By: Alyssa Kaminski

This ceramic pot made in Brazil circa 1000-1500 CE was collected by William C. Farabee during his Amazonian Expedition in 1913. Its intricate designs are created from incising, or cutting into, the red clay while it’s still soft. Notice the figures sitting below each handle. Penn Museum Object #SA1835. See this and other objects like it on […]

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19th Century Luba Stool [Object of the Day #47]

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By: Alyssa Kaminski

This wooden stool is supported by a female figure bearing the traits of the Luba identity. The woman sculpted traits indicate that she represents physical perfection.  The designs across her torso emulate scarification, a permanent body modification formed by scaring, burning, or cutting into the skin. She also has her hair pulled up into an […]

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Egyptian Lintel [Object of the Day #41]

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By: Alyssa Kaminski

This lintel was created in Egypt between 1479 and 1458 BCE. A lintel is an architectural object meant to bear weight and usually found above doors, windows, or passages. They are usually both functional and decorative objects. This Lintel has a winged sun disk at the top with three lines of inscription. As we see […]

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