University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Category: Americas


Contemplating the Void: Peopling the Past in Living History Museums – Lise Puyo

Caption: Diorama of two men exchanging wampum and beaver furs, at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum. Photo by Marge Bruchac.

By: Margaret Bruchac

Every year the Penn Museum provides support to Penn undergraduates and graduate students as they deepen their understanding of the human experience outside the Museum’s walls. Follow these blog posts from our intrepid young scholars as they report on the sights and sites that they encounter throughout their travels in the field. Report from the field […]


Seeking Zen in the Museum Storeroom: What Do X-Files, Gurgling Sounds, and Museums Have in Common?

Clockwise from top left: Daniel LoMastro, Ashley Scott, Laura Hazeltine, and Yin Liu in the sub-basement, 2015.  Ashley completed her MA in Egyptology at Penn and is now working with the Egyptian Section on collections storage renovation.  Yin is currently pursuing an MA in Museum Anthropology at Columbia University.

By: Lucy Fowler Williams

Something HUGE has been happening at the Penn Museum in one of seven American Section storerooms. For the past two years, downstairs in the sub-basement (the basement below the basement), in a room about the size of a football field, two small teams of Inventory Assistants have been moving carefully from shelf to shelf, checking […]


1966 Film Made in the Navajo Nation Gets Sound 50 years Later

Maxine and Mary Jane Tsosie with their Grandfather Sam Yazzie

By: Kate Pourshariati

Thanks to a unique set of circumstances a developing relationship has borne fruit this year for the Museum Archives. A film made in 1966 by Dr. Richard Chalfen, who generously donated his work to the Museum a few years ago, was never quite complete; it was lacking a sound track. In 2015 our Film Archivist […]


Maya and Guatemalan History in Film — Live from the Archives

people in Guatemala celebrate the end of a reign of terror

By: Kate Pourshariati

Archival Guatemalan footage from 1940 enriches a new film covering a long span of history.


Eastern Turkey Feather Headdress

Examining headdress styles at the Penn Museum. In the center is a Haudenosaunee gustoweh, topped with curling partridge and hawk feathers.

By: Margaret Bruchac

This object analysis was conducted for the Spring 2016 course Ethnohistory of the Native Northeast. Students are studying Native American objects in the Penn Museum collections by combining close material analyses (elements, construction, design, condition, etc.) with other forms of evidence: textual, photographic, historical, and ethnographic. In many cases, the objects we’re studying have little to no provenance data. So, we are […]


Considering the Feather Headdress

Cabinet card showing a group of Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) medicine show entertainers. Period inscription on the back of the card reads: “Caughnawaga [Mohawk] Indians with the Kickapoo Medicine Company. Season 1891. R.W. Telford, Manager.” Photos courtesy of Gerry Biron. Private collection.

By: Margaret Bruchac

During the Spring 2016 course Ethnohistory of the Native Northeast, students are studying Native American objects in the Penn Museum collections by combining close material analyses (elements, construction, design, condition, etc.) with other forms of evidence: textual, photographic, historical, and ethnographic. In many cases, the objects we’re studying have little to no provenance data. So, we are seeking out similar objects, reaching out […]


A Tale of Two Cities: The Ancient Maya Site of La Florida and the Modern Town of El Naranjo

The view from atop one of La Florida’s pyramids. Photo by Joanne Baron

By: Joanne Baron

As we approach the coldest months of the year, all I can think about is sunny Guatemala, where I spent the month of July this past summer. I direct the La Florida Archaeology Project, together with my colleague Liliana Padilla. La Florida is an ancient Maya site, once known as the center of the Namaan […]


Wampum Field Report Part 2: Kaianerasere’Kówa – Stephanie Mach

Richard W. Hill Sr. explaining wampum imagery to the author. Photo by Dr. Bruchac.

By: Stephanie Mach

Every year the Penn Museum provides support to Penn undergraduates and graduate students as they deepen their understanding of the human experience outside the Museum’s walls. Follow these blog posts from our intrepid young scholars as they report on the sights and sites that they encounter throughout their travels in the field. This is Part 2 […]


Wampum Field Report Part 1: Blueberry Stands, Beaver Dams, and Mannequins – Stephanie Mach

Sarah Parkinson (left) and Stephanie Mach studying ROM 911.3.130.B. Photo by Dr. Bruchac.

By: Stephanie Mach

Every year the Penn Museum provides support to Penn undergraduates and graduate students as they deepen their understanding of the human experience outside the Museum’s walls. Follow these blog posts from our intrepid young scholars as they report on the sights and sites that they encounter throughout their travels in the field. This season I continued […]


In the Alaskan Wilderness, 1907

Mt. Denali from the North, Alaska, 1907.  From a sketch by G. B. Gordon from a point on the Kantishna just below the fork.  Charcoal drawing on board by M. Louise Baker, 1917.  Penn Museum image no 171578

By: Alessandro Pezzati

In 1907, George Byron Gordon (still as Curator of the General Ethnology Section; he would assume the Directorship of the Penn Museum in 1910) led a small ethnological reconnaissance to Alaska. He had been there in 1905, traveling along portions of the Yukon River. This time, accompanied by his brother, MacLaren Gordon, he traveled to […]


Native American Voices at the Penn Museum

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