University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Welcome to the Penn Museum blog. First launched in January 2009, the Museum blog now has over 800 posts covering a range of topics in the categories of Museum, Collection, Exhibitions, Research, and By Location. Here you’ll hear directly from our staff and Penn students about their work, research, experiences, and discoveries. To explore the Museum's other digital content, visit The Digital Penn Museum.


Celebrating 50 Years of Professional Conservation at the Penn Museum

Molly Gleeson, Schwartz Project Conservator, jointly presenting at they Symposium with Eve Mayberger, Mellon Fellow in Objects Conservation at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston on conservation at the excavations at Abydos, Egypt.

By: Nina Owczarek

The Conservation Department is celebrating its 50th anniversary this fall. The lab was first established in 1966 and is one of the first archaeology / anthropology conservation labs in the US staffed by professional conservators. In the early years, the focus was on conservation treatments. But under the leadership of Virginia Greene, who began working […]

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Of Daggers and Scabbards: Evidence from Organic Pseudomorphs and X-Radiography

The image on the left shows B17506 under raking light.  The drawing on the right shows the pattern of the scabbard in blue.

By: Tessa de Alarcon

As part of the Ur Digitization Project, I have been spending time looking at the metal tools from the site.  As Kyra Kaercher has already noted in her blog post, many of the copper alloys from Ur have organic pseudomorphs.  These are sort of like fossils, in that they are organics which have been preserved […]

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Conservation of Kaipure’s Tomb Chapel

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By: Emily Brown

Hello from the Egypt (Sphinx) Gallery (or Lower Egypt as we often call it here at the Penn Museum)! We are Emily Brown and Madeleine Neiman, two project conservators working on the Vibration Mitigation Project at the Penn Museum. Currently, we are working in view of the public on an Old Kingdom tomb chapel (Figure […]

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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 […]

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Soft Vegetative Roof Capping at Gordion: A Tutorial Video UPDATE

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By: Naomi Miller

July 30, 2015 This is one in a series of posts about the Gordion ecopark:  Although I am primarily an archaeobotanist, I maintain several gardens at the Penn Museum’s excavation project at Gordion, Turkey. The biggest one is in the large area of the Citadel mound that was excavated down to the 800 BC Early […]

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Ask Us Anything!

Project Conservator Molly Gleeson (at left) and Head Conservator Lynn Grant (at right), looking forward to answering your questions about artifact conservation.

By: Tom Stanley

Open since September of 2012, the Museum’s ongoing In the Artifact Lab: Conserving Egyptian Mummies exhibition continues to be a big point of interest and engagement among our visitors. In case you’re not familiar with In the Artifact Lab, the concept is pretty simple: it’s a combination of an exhibition and a working conservation lab. […]

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Sitio Conte in Real Time: December 27, 1939

12-27-39_letter_merrill-1

By: Lee Roueche

“A great deal however depends on the individual in the field, his good judgement, his diagnosis on the condition of the specimen and just how it should be handled, the character of the material he has to treat, how much time is available and its reaction to certain kinds of treatment.” -Louis Schellbach to J. […]

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New Beginnings

fig1

By: Lynn Grant

In September 2014, the Penn Museum’s Conservation Department was able to move into our long-awaited new spaces. Funded by generous donors, including lead donors A. Bruce and Margaret Mainwaring, Charles K. Williams II, and Frederick J. Manning, the spaces were designed by Samuel Anderson Architects. In the newly renovated West Wing Conservation and Teaching Labs, […]

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Soft Vegetative Roof Capping at Gordion: A Tutorial Video

Poa bulbosa inflorescence

By: Naomi Miller

Archaeobotanists usually deal with dead plants, but as I was finishing my research on the ancient plant remains at Gordion, an ongoing project of the Penn Museum, I became involved in a bigger project: preserving regional biodiversity, the historical landscape, and the archaeological site itself through the management of the native vegetation. The approach sees […]

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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 […]

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The Golden Age of King Midas

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