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 a topic of interest, please use the Blog Search function.


Nature as Teacher: Seeing Ancient Rome in the Environment of the Modern City

In a letter to the historian Tacitus, Pliny wrote of the eruption, “I can best describe its shape by likening it to a pine tree. It rose into the sky on a very long ‘trunk’ from which spread some ‘branches.’"

By: Stephanie Hagan

The Roman author Pliny the Younger described the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD by likening the rising cloud of smoke to a pine tree. I didn’t understand what Pliny meant by his analogy, and I certainly couldn’t picture a volcano spewing out a coniferous Christmas tree of smoke and ash. When I arrived […]

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Hunting Comparanda in Rome

Me with the tiger panel in the Capitoline Museum

By: Stephanie Hagan

I came to Rome to begin work on my dissertation, which focuses on the 4th century CE Basilica of Junius Bassus. Once a magnificent pavilion whose walls were covered in marble decoration, the Basilica has only a few pieces that survive: four large panels of opus sectile, or inlaid marble. Two of these show a […]

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Women Can Also Play Sports. (Some Sports.)

By: Gabrielle Niu

The Villa del Casale of Piazza Armerina is the 4th-5th century Roman villa that is the subject of an article of the same name by Patrizio Pensabene and Enrico Gallocchio in the 2011 summer edition of the Penn Museum’s Expedition magazine. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the villa boasts architectural remains, archaeological remains, and, most […]

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Test Your Gladiator Knowledge

By: Josh

Penn Museum invites visitors to an afternoon exploring the history of the ancient Roman Empire’s spectacular fighter–the gladiator. Gladiator Day features gladiatorial bouts and demonstrations, a gladiator lecture, gladiator-inspired arts and crafts, balloon art creations, a food demonstration, and Italian-inspired cuisine, on Saturday, April 23, from 1:00 to 4:00 pm, throughout the galleries of the […]

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The Golden Age of King Midas

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