University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

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 […]

Portraying Nippur: Artist Osman Hamdi Bey’s Early Relationship with the Penn Museum

"At the Mosque Door"

By: Hannah Effinger

The Penn Museum is perhaps best known for its impressively large and varied collection of artifacts spanning practically the entirety of human existence, but recently visitors were given a special chance to step into the Museum Archives to learn about some unexpected items housed in the Museum—two paintings and the unique ties they have to […]

Ur Project: May 2015

x-ray of U.8783 (B17463) with comparison to published pin types from Ur

By: Brad Hafford

Metal Tools and Weapons from Ur With yet another look at U.8783 (Penn Museum Number: B17463) Awl, Chisel, or Punch from grave PG 422 More than 40 years after he excavated at the ancient city of Ur, Sir Max Mallowan had this to say: “There is still much to be gained through the analysis of Woolley’s […]

Ur Project: February 2015

31-17-403 after opening the crate and pulling back the burlap

By: Brad Hafford

Deep Pits and Early Burials (Again) Spotlight on 31-17-403: Uruk Period Skeleton from Ur Penn Museum’s second rediscovered skeleton The documentation that led to the rediscovery of an ancient skeleton from Ur in the Penn Museum’s storerooms last year showed that two skeletons had been received in March of 1931. This month we have located […]

Dispatches from Iraqi Kurdistan: Survey Far Beyond the Hilly Flanks

View down into the Topzawa Valley. Hiked to current point surveying hill for archaeological remains. Steep way down!

By: Marshall Schurtz

Survey in the newly opened archaeological frontier of Iraqi Kurdistan comes with many challenges. Other reports from University of Pennsylvania graduate students on the project about various aspects of our work have been put up on the Beyond the Museum Walls blog but my own work deals specifically with the survey in our area. This […]

Ur of the Chaldees Digitization: May 2014

Overlain images with outline of original Trial Trenches

By: Brad Hafford

Combining Maps and More at Ur Spotlight on matching maps, satellite imagery, and aerial photos Observing connections in spatial data with Geographic Information Systems I’ve been in Iraq for the past two weeks. Part of that time has been spent teaching Iraqi archaeologists from Mosul University some of the latest techniques in analysis of archaeological […]

Ur Digitization Project: April 2014

Bottom of Field card concerning PG778, containing drawing of U.10183

By: Brad Hafford

Artifact of the month Spotlight on Field Number U.10183 (Museum Number B17249) ‘goddess-handled’ jar In our recent investigations of pottery from Ur housed at the Penn Museum we have seen more than 1300 pieces, measuring, describing, photographing, recording condition, and making repairs or other treatments for those in need. In some cases we are removing […]

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 […]

Ur Digitization Project: February 2014

Map from UE7 showing Old Babylonian site with late grid placement: original designators have been placed over their excavation areas.

By: Brad Hafford

Site Records Mapping Woolley’s Notes Spotlight on Letter Designators for area excavations found in Ur notes and reports As we go through Woolley’s field notes from his excavations at the ancient city of Ur we learn more and more, not just about the buildings and artifacts he found, but about the way in which he […]

Ur Digitization Project: January 2014

Legrain Photo of the site of Palmyra in Syria, 1926.

By: Brad Hafford

Personal Records, 1926 Continued Spotlight on Legrain’s travels through his Letters and photos We have now completed scanning the curatorial records of Father León Legrain, or at least those that most directly concern the ancient city of Ur. I have now read through many of them, particularly those sent to Penn Museum director George Gordon, […]

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