University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Consider the Mustache


By: Bob Thurlow

Crumb duster, lip tickler, ‘mo – call it what you will, mustaches are an ever-present sight throughout human history. Since November is also Movember (a movement to promote awareness of Prostate and Testicular cancer), we decided to get in the mustachioed spirit and post an image a day of some of our favorite mustaches (with […]

Poems by Nizami from 1584 CE [Object of the Day #90]

Poems by Nizami

By: Bob Thurlow

Born in Modern-day Azerbaijan in the mid-12th Century, Nizami is often considered the most important medieval Persian poet and his works remained highly popular as modes of artistic expression long after his death. His master work, “The Quinary” or “Khamsa” – which entered the public realm about the same time that The Song of Roland […]

Bronze Plaque from Benin, Nigeria [Object of the Day #89]

Benin Plaque

By: Bob Thurlow

One of the first projects I remember working on at the museum was briefly helping with was “Iyare!” –  a fascinating exhibit of African material from Benin – and one of the most-eye catching pieces in the exhibit was this intricate plaque. The bronze plaques from the 16th Century Nigerian kingdom have long amazed people […]

Gold Plaque from Sitio Conte, Panama [Object of the Day #58]


By: Bob Thurlow

One of five large gold plaques or breast-plates found on a long-departed Panamanian chief, the one pictured above might be the most impressive. It is entirely intact (unlike this one, which seems to have had a bite taken out of it…), and the fine details of the creature’s tails and claws are impressive. The teeth, […]

Andean Jaguar Effigy Mortar [Object of the Day #56]

Andean Jaguar Effigy Mortar

By: Bob Thurlow

Consider the jaguar. Oft overshadowed by its more regal and striped cousins, this big cat is just as impressive. As the dominant non-human predator in most of the Western Hemisphere, jaguars have been held in esteem for thousands of years, resulting in a wide-range of artwork … but you would never know it by visiting […]

Nazca vs. Aliens

By: Bob Thurlow

Alleged alien encounters are not a modern-day phenomenon, yet we seem to actively incorporate those themes into the everyday life more than our predecessors. For decades, it seems there is at least one Hollywood blockbuster every summer that tackles the question of what would happen if extra-terrestrials contacted mankind. The most recent Indiana Jones flick […]

Every Object Tells a Story

By: Bob Thurlow

The series’ lone flashback – a cut to a discovery of the Cross of Coronado by a boy scout Indy and the follow-up conversation with his dad (deeply in-thought with some grail lore) – sets up a movie that tends to focus as much on the history of the pieces as it does the actual […]

Culture clash and the Temple of Doom

By: Bob Thurlow

It’s no secret that Dr. Jones, better known as Indiana, did not always use the methods that were very sensitive to local culture. In fact, it was even highlighted in a letter regarding his denial of tenure at his fictional college. But it was in Temple of Doom that Indy ran into his most diverse […]

Raiders of the Lost Ark vs. Sitio Conte

By: Bob Thurlow

Raiders of the Lost Ark has one of the best opening sequences of any movie: booby-traps,  an enormous boulder, and an incredibly-close getaway. But what was it all for? Treasure … or the Chachopoyan Fertility Idol, to be more precise. Legend holds that the movie prop was based off the Tlazolteotl idol held by Dumbarton […]

Indiana Jones and the Penn Museum

By: Bob Thurlow

A week of non-stop installation and the exhibit installation is nearing its conclusion, but before I go into further detail about why this exhibit is fascinating (aside from the obvious allure of Indy), I want to say that Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archaeology is currently only scheduled to travel to non-U.S. venues. X3, […]

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