University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Colossal Head of Ramses II [Object of the Day #45]

Ramses II

By: Josef Wegner

Almost all Egyptian gods and goddesses could take the form of an animal. Osiris, the god of the dead, never developed animal associations. That is because he symbolizes the idea of the mummified pharaoh. To the ancient Egyptians, Osiris was the first mummy in history and every person whose body was mummified was following in […]

Male ba Statue [Object of the Day #39]


By: Alyssa Kaminski

This sandstone statue was made sometime between 100 BCE and 300 CE. He is wearing a fringed robe with several necklaces and armbands. In his hands he carries a staff and a pinecone-shaped object. Over his head is a sundisk and behind him are a pair of large wings. The Egyptian ba was believed to […]

Mummy Case of Nebnetcheru [Object of the Day #38]

Nebnetcheru Coffin Lid from Thebes, ca. 1085-730 BCE

By: Jennifer Houser Wegner

Today’s object of the day is a new addition to the galleries. This colorful and beautifully decorated cartonnage mummy case lid is now on display in the Secrets and Science gallery. What is cartonnage? Cartonnage is a material consisting of several layers of linen or papyrus pasted together and covered by a thin layer of […]

Egyptian Kneeling Statue [Object of the Day #36]


By: Alyssa Kaminski

This Egyptian kneeling statue was created around 1351 BCE. The statue is made of bronze gilded with gold. With his arms missing, this king sits kneeling, wearing a nemes headdress. His broad hips and elongated facial features indicate that he was made in the latter part of the Amarna Period. There are traces of the […]

Aten Relief from Amarna, Egypt [Object of the Day #15]

Aten Relief

By: Amy Ellsworth

During the Amarna period in Egypt in the 18th Dynasty, the heretic Pharaoh Akhenaten lead a religious revolution that reduced Egypt’s pantheon from a multitude of Gods, to just one, the Aten, or the Sun God. This quartzite shows Akhenaten with his eldest daughter Meretaten. The block originally belonged to the pylon gateway of a […]

Coming Soon: Shabti Display

By: Gabrielle Niu

The Penn Museum’s Egyptian Mummy exhibition will soon include a new display highlighting the museum’s shabti collection. Shabtis – small, funerary figurines, either mummiform or in civilian dress – were important components of Egyptian funerary culture from the New Kingdom (ca. 1550 – 1070) onwards. Shabtis were believed to help perform labor for the tomb […]

Ostrich Eggs

By: Gabrielle Niu

Ostrich eggshells have had a long history in the art and commerce of Africa. Back in 1987, David Conwell from Penn’s Classical Archaeology department published an article in the Penn Museum Expedition Journal about the implications about Libyan trade drawn from analysis of ostrich eggshell fragments. Conwell suggests that the shell fragments give us a […]

Fun Friday Images of the Week: Camels!

By: Amy Ellsworth

Since we started planning for Secrets of the Silk Road, almost every powerpoint presentation I’ve seen has been festooned with pictures of camels. We’ve spent many a coffee break needling over whether or not the camels peppering the latest powerpoint were Bactrians or Dromedaries. Bactrian camels have two humps! Surely, you knew that already. At […]

Fun Friday Image of the Week – The Sphinx

By: Amy Ellsworth

Sphinx of Ramesses II in front of the Main Entrance of the Penn Museum, covered with snow. The Sphinx was moved into the building in 1916, and the Lower Egyptian Gallery was built around the sphinx in 1926. Penn Museum image 140759. I just rubbed my hands together and blew into them to get them […]

Dancing Man at the Seneferu Pyramid in 1929

By: Amy Ellsworth

This man is one of many workers at the excavation of the Seneferu Pyramid in 1929. Maybe it was the presence of the motion picture camera that inspired him to start dancing. Notice the reaction of his fellow workers. For some, the inspiration to start singing and dancing seems pretty commonplace, but others start to […]

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