University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Ancient Repairs at Ur and the Power of Bitumen

35-1-127: a leg and foot of a figure with a repair at the ankle.

By: Tessa de Alarcon

One thing that we all love to find on objects in the Museum collections are ancient repairs.  These are repairs made to an object during its period of use. So, imagine that mug you use every day for your morning coffee.  One day that mug breaks and you fix it with Super glue and go […]

Standing on Stilts: The Glazed Ceramics from Ur

Reconstruction of how stilt were used to stack bowls during firing

By: Tessa de Alarcon

In my last blog post I wrote about the process for firing some of the unglazed ceramics from Ur and I thought I’d follow that up with some information about the glazed ceramics from Ur. The firing of glazed wares is different from unglazed ceramics in a few key ways.  First they have to be […]

The Ur Digitization Project: The Largest Jar!

Field Photo from Pit F showing an excavated kiln still containing pottery

By: Tessa de Alarcon

While working on the Ur Digitization Project and the condition assessment of the ceramic vessels from Ur, I often find myself thinking about how they were made.  Once in a while I notice features that help illuminate that question.  My favorite example of this is 31-16-160, which is described in our database as, “pottery, the […]

Mysteries of Kourion Revisited: a Mystery Solved!


By: Tessa de Alarcon

Awhile back I wrote a post, Mysteries of Kourion, about an unusual object from Kaloriziki Kourion (an archaeological site on Cyprus), which rattles when moved.  Last week I got to revisit the question of what exactly is making that noise, as this object along with a number of objects from the Egyptian section were taken […]

The Salty Pots of Ur and the Desalination Station

Ceramics drying after desalination

By: Tessa de Alarcon

In July, I joined the Ur Digitization Project.  As a part of this project, I have been working on a condition assessment of the ceramics from Ur.  In doing the condition assessment I am looking at, measuring, and evaluating the stability of every ceramic vessel in the Museum’s collection from Ur.  So far I have […]

Animal Imagery from Kourion Cyprus


By: Tessa de Alarcon

I finished up my part in the Digital Kourion project over the summer and to end it I wanted to highlight some of my favorite objects that I photographed from this unique collection.  These photos are now online as part of the Penn Museum’s Online Collection Database (Kourion). One of the things I found particularly […]

A Message from Copán Ruinas


By: Tessa de Alarcon

I am in Copan Ruinas, Honduras along with Lynn Grant and Loa Traxler working on the final touches for a workshop on field conservation.  This is my first time in Honduras and therefore in Copan.   The site is certainly a marvel, but I expected it to be.  The real surprise has been the CRIA (Centro […]

Mysteries of Kourion


By: Tessa de Alarcon

I am working on a year long project conducting a condition survey of the objects at the Penn Museum from Kourion, Cyprus, that were excavated under the direction of George McFadden. This may not sound all that glamorous, but it has some definite perks.  In particular it means that I get to examine and photograph […]

Conservation of Masks for Maya 2012: Lords of Time

By: Tessa de Alarcon

  One of the projects that we’re working on in the conservation lab right now is preparations for the Maya 2012: Lords of Time exhibition (opening on May 5th!). We’re currently examining and treating Guatemalan face masks. A common problem that many of these masks have is flaking paint.             […]

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