Category Archives: Research

Dispatches from Iraqi Kurdistan: On the Road Again

The falls at Gal-i Ali Beg

May 14 Driving in the United States does little to prepare you for the fluidity, and occasional terror, of driving in the Middle East. In major cities, like Cairo, Damascus, or Tehran, traffic ebbs and flows independent of the restrictions of lane designations and traffic laws. These exist, but they often appear to serve as […]

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Dispatches from Iraqi Kurdistan: Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

Iraqi Kurdistan, northeast Irac

May 11 Good morning from Doha in Qatar! Every field season starts with getting to where you work. Often, this seemingly simple task can become its own odyssey. Many research projects are located in the countryside, far from the international airports of the cities. Depending on their situation, archaeologists in the Middle East use a […]

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Dispatches from Iraqi Kurdistan: The Rowanduz Archaeological Program 2014

Gird-i-Dasht

May 10 Like swallows returning to San Juan Capistrano, archaeologists are once again arriving at excavations all over the world. This summer, Penn students and faculty are back in Iraqi Kurdistan for the second season of the Rowanduz Archaeological Program (RAP). As a field director, I’m one of the first to arrive and one of […]

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Rediscovering a Forgotten Egyptian Pharaoh: A Penn Student’s Experience in the Field

Excavation site

In January, researchers from the Penn Museum made an historic discovery in Abydos, Egypt—unearthing the tomb and skeletal remains of a previously unknown pharaoh, Woseribre Senebkay, who reigned in the 17th century BCE. The finding was the culmination of work at the site that began in summer 2013 by a team led by Dr. Josef […]

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Hot Pots, Museum Raids, and the Race to Uncover Asia’s Archaeological Past

Federal agents descend upon the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana during a raid in January 2008

It’s not every day that an archaeologist helps serve a Federal search warrant, never mind one that was part of a 500-officer dawn raid at multiple museums in California and Chicago. The search was for smuggled Thai archaeological artifacts, brought into the US since 2003 and added to museum collections under suspicious circumstances. To get […]

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What are Museum Keepers?

Requests to identify sherds in the museum collection.

People often ask me, What does a Keeper do? Which is a fair question—you might think of Zoo Keepers with that terminology. You could equate our work, at the most basic level, as “collections management,” but I think we’d all say we do so much more than that. There are Keepers in all of our […]

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Zheng He: Great Voyages Lecture

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During three decades at the beginning of the 15th century, China dispatched a series of naval expeditions to Southeast Asia, India, the Persian Gulf and East Africa. These expeditions were on a huge scale, involving hundreds of ships and tens of thousands of men, and were intended to assert the prestige and political dominance of […]

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Ur Digitization Project: September 2013

A view down Straight Street (Division Street) in the 1930-31 season. UPM Archive photo 191883

Excavation of the ancient city, 1930-31 Season Spotlight on Domestic Area AH Reconstructing original house numbers and the process of their excavation One of the great accomplishments of the Ur excavation was the large extent of domestic architecture it revealed. Many early archaeological efforts focused almost exclusively on monumental structures and grandiose tombs. Woolley certainly […]

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Journey across China. Day 9 – Homestretch

Screen Shot 2013-06-27 at 12.31.48 AM

On the last day, we traveled across Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture before making our way northward into Bortala Mongol Autonomous Prefecture. On both sides of the highway were spectacular views of velvety green hills with fir trees and fields of lavender. We passed a few roadside stores selling wild berry jams and honey in the […]

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Excavations at Cosa

View from Cosa

My name is Sophie Crawford-Brown and I am going into my second year at Penn as a PhD student in Art and Archaeology of the Mediterranean World. Thanks to the generous support of the Penn Museum, I was able to excavate at a fascinating site in Italy this summer. The dig team was staying in […]

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