University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Crystal Ball [Object of the Day #102]


By: Gabrielle Niu

Seated on top of a stand shaped like a frothing wave, 24.5 cm in diameter, the Crystal Ballcentered under the vaulted ceiling of the Chinese rotunda has an exciting and mysterious past. The fifty-five pounds of transparent quartz crystal is supposedly from the imperial collections of the infamous Qing dynasty Empress, Cixi (1835 – 1908). […]

Mortuary Statue [Object of the Day #96]


By: Gabrielle Niu

This limestone mortuary sculpture is from the ancient city of Palmyra in modern-day central Syria. Michael Danti dates this ornate statue to the 3rd century CE, a time when the city of Palmyra flourished under Roman rule as an important nexus of trade between the East and West. After Syria was established as a Roman […]

Pile Cloth, Textile [Object of the Day-#83]


By: Gabrielle Niu

This embroidered pile cloth is made by the Bushongo in Zaire, Africa. The design includes squares of angular lines which, create different patterns. Similar patterns are arranged diagonally from each other and are bordered by a brown cloth, on three sides.  Embroidery is a technique used to decorate fabric and often involves using needle and […]

Box Lid [Object of the Day-#81]

box lid

By: Gabrielle Niu

This crescent shaped box comes from the Kasai District of the Belgian Congo (Central Africa). The box is made from carved wood and features many geometric patterns on the sides and top of the box. For example, the rim features horizontally set diamond shapes with a line across the center of each one. Additionally, the […]

Ivory Box [Object of the Day-#77]


By: Gabrielle Niu

This ornate ivory box is made by the Edo in Nigeria, Africa. The box lid includes representations of two human like figures (on the left) and a reptile like creature (on the right). The sides of the box are decorated with a three-ply two strand twist (each strand is three-ply). Additionally, the bottom of box […]

Sculpture of Female Attendants [Object of the Day- #75]


By: Gabrielle Niu

These two statues are from Northern Thailand (19th Century). The one of the right, kneeling with her hands folded in front of her chest, represents a female attendant to the Buddha. To her left is a male attendant. He sits with one hand on his knee and the other holding a staff. Both pieces are […]

Queen Puabi’s Headdress [Object of the Day #70]


By: Gabrielle Niu

This ornate headdress and pair of earrings were found with the body of Queen Puabi in the Royal Cemetery at Ur. The headdress is made up of 20 gold leaves, two strings of lapis and carnelian, and a large gold comb. When Queen Puabi was found, there were several distinct aspects of her burial. On […]

African Cup [Object of the Day #69]


By: Gabrielle Niu

This wooden vessel, made by the Bushongo in Zaire, has a flat base and a bulbous mid-section. The handle has a carved oval shape and pointed ends which, protrude from the handle. The body of the vessel is ornamentally carved with small diamond shapes. The pattern formed by the diamond shapes is often referred to […]

Ritual Vessel [Object of the Day #68]


By: Gabrielle Niu

The vessel, pictured above, is a four sided fanghu (fāng hú) or square jar. This vessel is composed of copper alloy, bronze, malachite and pigment. The four sides are inlaid with green malachite in a delicate pattern. The pattern is still visible despite much of the malachite being lost. On either side of the vessel are […]

Coming Soon: Shabti Display

By: Gabrielle Niu

The Penn Museum’s Egyptian Mummy exhibition will soon include a new display highlighting the museum’s shabti collection. Shabtis – small, funerary figurines, either mummiform or in civilian dress – were important components of Egyptian funerary culture from the New Kingdom (ca. 1550 – 1070) onwards. Shabtis were believed to help perform labor for the tomb […]

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