University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

How We Do What We Do

Buddhist Blog Project Photo

By: Morgan Burgess

“Can you please explain what you’re doing?” is a question we hear daily. From a visitor’s perspective it doesn’t look like we’re doing much. Basically, we observe and document. A thorough condition report is the first step in any conservation treatment; we need to know what we’re dealing with. These murals are so large that […]

What ARE the Buddhist Murals Made Of?

mural constructionv3

By: Morgan Burgess

The questions most frequently asked of us while working on the Buddhist murals in the Chinese rotunda involve what the murals are made of. Often people presume they are frescoes. True fresco is done on wet plaster. The pigments used in a fresco are mixed with water and applied to a wet plaster surface. A […]

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 […]

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 […]

The Artifact Lab takes shape

Project Conservator Molly Gleeson comes face to face with one of her prospective 'clients'

By: Lynn Grant

Last week the preparations for the Artifact Lab (see my previous post) really began to gather speed.  On Monday, Molly Gleeson the project conservator arrived and was immediately plunged into the preparations. Molly, a graduate of the UCLA/Getty program in the Conservation of Archaeological and Ethnographic Materials, has experience and interest in public outreach regarding […]

Pachacamac Survey Project: Wrapping Things Up

By: Fran Baas

It’s hard to believe that our year here is coming to an end. We’re wrapping up the final details and writing our final reports on our IMLS Pachacamac Survey Project.  When I wrote my last blog post, we were in full photography and housing mode.  I am delighted to report that we have finished that […]

Suburban Development Threatens Archaeological Site in Gordion, Turkey


By: Naomi Miller

The Penn Museum project at Gordion has been working to preserve the site and over 100 related burial mounds (“tumuli”) that constitute an amazing historical landscape. Agricultural and suburban development are destroying the rural character of the region at a rapid rate, and an immediate threat to the archaeological remains is caused by plowing and irrigating of many […]

Pachacamac Survey Project: Ceramics Update

Team Pachacamac (Top left) Jacob Bridy, Elizabeth Levitz, Laura Walsh, Nicole Bull, Hong-Gyu Shin (Bottom left) Elissa Meyers, Fran Baas, Ainslie Harrison

By: Ainslie Harrison

So we are almost at the end of our IMLS survey of Pachacamac textiles and ceramics. As mentioned in previous blog posts, this one-year grant covers a detailed condition assessment, photography, and rehousing of the archeological textiles and ceramics from Max Uhle’s 1896 excavation at Pachacamac, Peru.  We have gotten a lot done over the last 10 […]

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