Category Archives: Fun Friday Image of the Week

How to protect your home and family, the Sassanian way.

Ok, I’ll be honest. At first I just chose this image of an Aramaic incantation bowl as the fun friday image of the week because: “look! cute child-like monster drawings!”. But the more I learn about this esoteric corner of the archaeological world, the more relevant these little bowls become. For several hundred years between […]

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Turtle Heist

We’ve all been told that anthropologists have no right to intervene in the lives of their subjects — does it make a difference if their subjects are small, green, and promise not to tattle? Frank Goldsmith Speck, near the end of his career at Penn, befriended John Witthoft, a young colleague of his. The two […]

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The Tactile Experience

I previously wrote about the Penn Museum’s close calls with visitors outraged because forbidden to paw at the granite sphinx.  But when is it okay for a visitor to handle the artifacts?  Exceptions are made, not only when you are famous, but sometimes because you are blind, and more rarely, when you are famous and […]

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Do the museum guards really mistreat visitors?

It is an eternal conundrum of museums to balance the contradictory values of preservation and access.  On the one hand, museums must protect these countless pieces of the world forever, but on the other, they’re not allowed to do it the best way, which is to put everything underground in a salt mine beneath a […]

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Desert Falconer

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Pointless but Adorable Animal Photo

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Fire, Water, and the Closing of the Frontier

If you ever want to make a genealogist cry (no judgment here — that could be an entertaining time), just mention the 1890 United States census. It was a victim of destiny and bureaucrats, first damaged in a fire in 1921 and later destroyed by bone-headed paper pushers in 1933. The first census to use […]

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Weirdo gentlemen archaeologists and the archivists who love them

There’s a qualitative difference, I’ve discovered, in researching the lives of antebellum and post-Civil War historical figures. When I read the papers of archaeologists of the late nineteenth century, I more or less understand their lives, the technologies that influence their work and the workings of their disciplines. Anything before 1860, however, leaves me lost. […]

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More snakes than Indiana Jones

While preparing for an upcoming presentation, I am finally taking a close look at the museum’s amazing film collection.  Though digitized and made available online in 2007-2008 by the Internet Archive,  the 675 reels of 16mm film are simply too much material for casual browsing.  Spending time with the films, however, is worth it. Comprised […]

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Phun with Photochromes*

Please indulge the ebullient tone in this post — the sun is shining and I just can’t contain myself. Every once in a while, we should take a moment to look at a truly beautiful image. There’s a lot to like about this image. The composition is effective, the subject compelling, colors vibrant and details […]

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