University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

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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Ancient Ur and Historic Iraq: Woolley’s 11th Season

Photo taken by Father Leon Legrain in Ur season 4 (1925-1926. At center is Hamoudi's son Yahia who was in charge of photography and here he carries the photo tripod. At left may be his brother Ibrahim, though evidence tends to indicate he bean work only in the following season 5.

By: Brad Hafford

Ur Digitization Project Blog, March 2016 Spotlight on Archival Documents Field Report dated December 31, 1932 Over the past few months I’ve been going over the reports that Leonard Woolley sent from the field 80-90 years ago. This analysis is helping to create pages at Ur-Online that track the yearly progress of excavation. We have collected the field reports […]

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Adventure Calls: The Life of a Woman Adventurer

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By: Kyra Kaercher

Ur Project February 2016 “Perhaps the presence of a lone woman with four men in camp makes a more interesting figure for some of them than the outline of ziggurats” (G. Gordon letter to L. Woolley concerning Katharine Menke Keeling, July 8th 1926). Life on a dig is always exciting, and particularly when it is the […]

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Ur Project, January 2016: A Tour of Ur

Field photo 1884 (left, 1930) and modern equivalent (right, 2015) showing Straight Street from the southeast.

By: Brad Hafford

Ur, Then and Now Comparing photos from the field and from a recent visit Field photos no. 454 and 1884 with equivalents taken in 2015 I’ve been studying the ancient city of Ur for more than a decade, but due to the struggles the nation of Iraq has endured I’d never been able to visit […]

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Ur Project: December 2015

Left: Penn Museum Number 32-40-29 (U.17820) showing a woman nursing a child, Top: Penn Museum Number B5695 (U.1211) a Pazuzu amulet or mask, and Bottom: British Museum Number 1924,0920.95 (U.1753) a Pazuzu amulet or mask.

By: Kyra Kaercher

Where are all the children? Focus on 32-40-29 (U.17820), B15695 (U.1211), 87-28-21 (U.3169), B15708 (U.1252) Children comprise between 40% and 65% of most documented social groups from foragers to industrialized nations, and as such, can be expected to have created portions of the archaeological record (Baxter 2005).  At Ur, we have many child burials, but artifacts […]

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Ur Digitization Project: November 2015

Parthian horse and rider figurine from Nippur.

By: Brad Hafford

Horse and Rider at Ur A look at U.20055 (Museum Object Number: 35-1-114) And other horse and rider figurines When did the people of Mesopotamia first start riding horses? It’s a straightforward question but it has a somewhat complicated answer. First of all, the true horse (Equus caballus) was a relatively late entry into Mesopotamia […]

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Ur Project: October 2015

Pendants, each about one inch in diameter (Bass 1966:37).

By: Kyra Kaercher

http://penn.museum/collections/object/283733Spiral pendants from the Near East Focus on 35-1-98C (no U number), B16370 (U.6800), B16794 (U.9351A). A special thanks to Dr. Sophie Cluzan (Curator of Near Eastern Archaeology at the Louvre), and Tessa de Alarcon, our project conservator, for the X-ray of 35-1-98C. The idea for this month’s blog post came while I was looking […]

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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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Ur Project: September 2015

What animal is it? U.12772, 31-17-322

By: Brad Hafford

An Ubaid Period Quadruped Figurine from Ur Another Game of ‘What Animal Is It Anyway?’ U.12772 (Museum Nr. 31-17-322) I’ve been looking into the theme of transportation in the ancient world lately and attempting to use the information and artifacts we are gathering and presenting at Ur-Online to research the question. How was transport displayed […]

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Ur Project: August 2015

Sample note card from Legrain's research. The category for the figurine is in blue pencil at bottom.

By: Brad Hafford

Researcher Notes and Intern Work Spotlight on Legrain note cards (and the interns who helped with them) Including a special look at model brick(?) U.7587 (Museum Object Number: B17216) Near the end of the old Ur excavations, Father León Legrain (Penn Museum Babylonian Section Curator at the time) began writing two volumes for the Ur Excavation series. […]

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