From Banners to Bags

Typically the Penn Museum is learning and sharing material culture of past civilizations. A direct partnership with Goodwill Industries of Southern New Jersey and Philadelphia is allowing the Museum to donate to the creation of modern-day material culture by recycling its exterior fabric banners into messenger bags, gift bags, and lunch totes.

Read more: From Banners to Bags


Unearthed in the Archives

It’s 1:30 pm on a Friday. Alessandro Pezzati (Alex) invites guests who have come down the hallway to the iron gated Archives to enter and take a seat around a long heavy wooden table. He puts out an oversized manila folder, slightly bulging, on the table, and offers up an informal introduction to the Penn Museum Archives—the place where he has worked for more than two decades, as Senior Archivist for many of those years.

At first glance, the Archives inhabit a grand and elegant, albeit old space that seems transported from another era. One is greeted by noble painted portraits, old cabinets piled high with papers and tubes, and shelves upon shelves of grey boxes. Black ironwork circular staircases lead to an open, narrow second floor walkway, with more shelves and more boxes. The Archives is a place filled with records: archaeological and ethnographic field notes and drawings, museum correspondence, photographs, prints, and some art. Listen to Alex, though, and you soon see the Archives as a very different place: one alive with stories of the past.

Read more: Unearthed in the Archives


Exploring World History with National Geographic Learning

National Geographic Learning (NGL), who is developing a World History program for middle school students, spent a day filming behind-the-scenes and in the galleries of the Penn Museum on Monday, April 21.

When edited, the segment filmed at the Penn Museum will be part of a much larger social studies video program that complements and expands upon a print textbook to be published in 2016.

Read more: Exploring World History with National Geographic Learning


Museum's Touch Tour Program to Receive Award

Penn Museum Earns Arts Accessibility Award for Touch
Tours Program to Welcome Blind, Low-Vision Guests

art-reachPhiladelphia-based arts accessibility organization Art-Reach has named the Penn Museum one of its 2014 Commitment to Cultural Access Award recipients. Each year, Art-Reach honors organizations or individuals in Greater Philadelphia who are doing extraordinary work in the area of accessibility. The award is being bestowed as the Museum concludes the second year of its Touch Tour program for blind and low-vision guests. The award will be presented at Art-Reach's 2014 Commitment to Cultural Access Awards Celebration Thursday, April 24, 6:00 - 8:00 pm in the Penn Museum's Lower Egyptian (Sphinx) Gallery. Tickets are still available for the public to attend. 

Read more: Museum's Touch Tour Program to Receive Award


Philadelphia Science Festival 2014: Penn Museum Activities

Philadelphia Science Festival: Friday, April 25 – Saturday, May 3

PSF LogowebPenn Museum is a founding partner and a core collaborator of the fourth annual Philadelphia Science Festival, participating in festival activities around the city.

The 2014 Philadelphia Science Festival is a citywide collaboration that brings together nine exciting days, April 25 through May 3, filled with events that showcase science and technology in everyday life. Part of a national movement to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers, it builds on Philadelphia's rich history of innovation with more than 100 events and 175 partner organizations around the Philadelphia area. Learn more at

Read more: Philadelphia Science Festival 2014: Penn Museum Activities


John Rockwell, Jeremy Sabloff to Receive Museum Medals

Jeremy A. Sabloff, John R. Rockwell Honored at the Penn Museum April 25
New Recipients of the Lucy Wharton Drexel Medal, Marian Angell Godfrey Boyer Medal

MedalswebIt turns out that 1964 was a very fine year! Two prestigious Penn Museum medals—the Lucy Wharton Drexel Medal and the Marian Angell Godfrey Boyer Medal—will be awarded to two members of the University of Pennsylvania's 50th Reunion Class of 1964 at a special Museum dinner on April 25, 2014.

The Lucy Wharton Drexel Medal will be presented to Jeremy A. Sabloff, Ph.D. The Marian Angell Godfrey Boyer Medal will be awarded to John R. Rockwell. They will be honored at a dinner attended by their families and several of their classmates, as well as the Penn Museum's leadership, Board of Overseers, and members of the Loren Eiseley Society.

"We are thrilled to be able to recognize two extraordinary people, both of whom have served the Penn Museum generously and have been wonderful ambassadors for all we do," noted Julian Siggers, Ph.D., Williams Director, Penn Museum.

"We celebrate Jeremy Sabloff, past Williams Director, for his significant achievements in the field of Maya studies, with the Lucy Wharton Drexel Medal. It is a pleasure, as well, to be able to present our Marian Angell Godfrey Boyer Medal, aptly called our 'Angell' award, to a real life Museum 'angel' Rick Rockwell, who has supported our research, collections stewardship, and exhibition programs so generously."

Read more: John Rockwell, Jeremy Sabloff to Receive Museum Medals


No Dinosaurs? No More!

No bones about it—the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology is all about the history and culture of humankind, NOT dinosaurs.

Until now.

Lisa G and Brandon with boneMeet Nothronychus graffami (okay, the right humerus of Northronychus graffami) hailing from the Tropic Shale of southern Utah.

According to Brandon Hedrick, Ph.D. candidate in the Earth and Environmental Sciences Department, School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania, this bone is part of a therizinosaurid, who lived a while back—somewhere between 90 and 95 million years ago. Therizinosaurids are a group of theropod dinosaurs that appear to be herbivorous rather than carnivorous as is typical for theropods. They most resemble giant sloths. Nothronychus actually means 'sloth claw.

Read more: No Dinosaurs? No More!


Forgotten Egyptian Dynasty Discovered

Tomb-webPenn Museum archaeologists working at the southern Egyptian site of Abydos have discovered the tomb of a previously unknown pharaoh: Woseribre Senebkay—and the first material proof of a forgotten Abydos Dynasty, ca. 1650–1600 BC. Working in cooperation with Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, a team from the Penn Museum, University of Pennsylvania, discovered king Senebkay's tomb close to a larger royal tomb, recently identified as belonging to a king Sobekhotep (probably Sobekhotep I, ca. 1780 BC) of the 13th Dynasty.

The discovery, released January 15, 2014, is making international headlines.

Read more about the excavations, led by Dr. Josef Wegner, Egyptian Section Associate Curator of the Penn Museum, and this history-making discovery, online.

Image: Team members work to excavate the burial chamber of the pharaoh Woseribre Senebkay, with sheets covering a painted wall decoration (Photo: Josef Wegner, Penn Museum).


“Nordic Grog” An Ancient Scandinavian Treat

HavorhoardwebIt turns out the ancient peoples of Scandinavia had more than a blazing fire to keep them warm. New biomolecular archaeological evidence recently published by Patrick E. McGovern, Scientific Director, Biomolecular Archaeology Project at the Penn Museum, and colleagues, points to a "Nordic Grog" with a long history. From northwest Denmark, circa 1500–1300 BC, to the Swedish island of Gotland as late as the first century AD, Nordic peoples were imbibing an alcoholic "grog" or extreme hybrid beverage rich in local ingredients, including honey, bog cranberry, lingonberry, bog myrtle, yarrow, juniper, birch tree resin, and cereals including wheat, barley and/or rye—and sometimes, grape wine imported from southern or central Europe.

Read about the latest chapter in Dr. McGovern's decades-long quest to understand the cultural and gustatorial history of alcoholic beverages here.

Photo: Ancient Roman imported drinking-set, comprised of a bucket (situla), a ladle and strainer-cup nested together, and several "sauce pans" or drinking cups, from a hoard under the floor of a settlement at Havor (Sweden) in the southern part of the island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea, first century AD (Photograph courtesy of E. Nylén and Statens Historiska Museum, Stockholm).


Touch Tours Program Featured by Associated Press

DSC 1345-smThe Penn Museum's "Insights into Ancient Egypt" Touch Tour program is back for its second year, offering blind and visually impaired visitors the unique opportunity to experience select Museum objects with their hands. Now, the national media have taken notice, with an illuminating article and video created by the Associated Press.

Watch the video below, and click here to read the full article.

Read more: Touch Tours Program Featured by Associated Press


Mayor's VIP Program Honors HS Freshmen

Mayor's VIPs Freshman Awards Ceremony at Penn Museum Celebrates Effort, Education

MarianawebIt was an afternoon for celebration, inspiration, and parental pride at the Penn Museum Thursday, November 21, as the Mayor's VIPs Program acknowledged—and rewarded—hundreds of Philadelphia High School freshman who have obtained perfect school attendance this semester.

Read more: Mayor's VIP Program Honors HS Freshmen


West Philadelphia Students Kick Off Sphinx Celebration

DSC 0121More than 100 sixth, seventh, and eighth graders from the neighboring Lea and the Penn Alexander schools in West Philadelphia visited the Penn Museum on Friday, October 18, to help kick off the centennial celebration of the Penn Museum's Sphinx—the largest in the Western Hemisphere—in  Philadelphia.

Read more: West Philadelphia Students Kick Off Sphinx Celebration


“Touch Tours” for Blind Visitors Return to the Penn Museum

Penn Museum Welcomes Overbrook School for the Blind
as First Guests for Expanded "Touch Tours" Program

touch tour overbrook school copyPenn Museum's "Insights to Ancient Egypt" Touch Tours program for blind and low-vision visitors is off and running for a second season, now through December 16. Trish Maunder, Project Coordinator for Special Tours and a disabilities program consultant for the Penn Museum, expanded and revamped the Touch Tours program in response to feedback from members of the community. New for 2013 is a longer tour, assistant docents who themselves are blind or have low vision, the opportunity to touch and feel stone artifacts in the Upper Egypt gallery, a classroom mummification component allowing guests to feel replicas of a brain hook, canopic jar and special commissioned scale replicas of artifacts too large or too fragile to handle directly.

Read more: “Touch Tours” for Blind Visitors Return to the Penn Museum


"Art from the Archives" Showcases Northwest Coast, Inuit Art

ThunderbirdA new display at the Penn Museum features "Art from the Archives: Northwest Coast and Inuit Prints and Drawings." Comprised of artwork from our archives, this installation offers colorful views into the lives of this region's indigenous people.

Read more: "Art from the Archives" Showcases Northwest Coast, Inuit Art


Mütter Museum, Penn Museum Ticket Partner, Opens New Exhibition

Broken Bodies, Suffering SpiritsThe Penn Museum offers a special double ticket with the Mütter Museum of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, good for discounted admission to both Museums. Now, a new permanent exhibition at the Mütter Museum offers another great reason to take advantage of this deal.

Read more: Mütter Museum, Penn Museum Ticket Partner, Opens New Exhibition


Dr. Patrick McGovern Nominated for "Scientist of the Year" by Philly Geek Awards

PatMcGovern 0017This year's Philly Geek Awards are just around the corner. Among this year's nominees is Dr. Pat McGovern, Scientific Director of the Biomolecular Archaeology Project at the Penn Museum, and author of Uncorking the Past: The Quest for Wine, Beer, and Other Alcoholic Beverages. Dr. McGovern is in the running for "Scientist of the Year," in recognition of his work researching and identifying ancient fermented beverages, several of which have been recreated through collaboration with Dogfish Head Craft Brewery.

Read more about Dr. McGovern's work, and look through the rest of the 2013 Philly Geek Award categories and nominees.


Year-Long “Syrinx Journey” Project Visits the Penn Museum

MimiInGreeceVertWEBMimi Stillman, acclaimed flutist, founder and Artistic Director of Philadelphia's Dolce Suono Ensemble, and a University of Pennsylvania alumna (Masters in History, 2003; ABD for Ph.D., 2006), has embarked on an ambitious musical adventure. Stillman's project entitled "Syrinx Journey" honors composer Claude Debussy's 150th birthday. Since August 22, 2012, Stillman has performed Debussy's "Syrinx for Solo Flute" every day in various locations around the world. She recently inquired about including the Penn Museum as part of this incredible homage—and was invited to bring her flute and her hauntingly beautiful two-and-a-half-minute "Syrinx" to the galleries on Monday, August 5—just weeks before her year-long project concludes.

Read more: Year-Long “Syrinx Journey” Project Visits the Penn Museum


The Penn Museum Expands Digital Access to Its Collections and Research Projects—Partners with Digital Antiquity and tDAR to Increase Global Scholarly Access to Its Research Publications

JUNE 2013—As a repository of wide-ranging, international collections, original field notes and archival data from roughly 300 archaeological and anthropological expeditions around the world, the Penn Museum in Philadelphia is committed to open, global, digital access for scholars and the public. In 2012, celebrating the Museum's 125th anniversary, the Penn Museum launched two online projects to expand access to its collections and share information about its research history: the online Collections Database and interactive Research Map and Timeline. While those projects continue to grow, the Museum has partnered with Digital Antiquity to further expand research data access to scholars.

Increased Data, Accessibility on

Launched in January 2012, the online Collections Database has gradually expanded over the past 18 months with a wealth of additional content. It now contains more than 332,851 object records representing 692,850 objects, and more than 90,000 images illustrating 34,067 object records. In addition to the growth in available data, the functionality of the online interface has also been improved, allowing more refined searching and browsing of the Museum’s collections, and—new this month—the ability for online visitors to download the Museum’s collections metadata to sort, study, and use it to suit their own research interests under a CC BY 3.0 Creative Commons license.

Read more: The Penn Museum Expands Digital Access to Its Collections and Research Projects—Partners with...


New Evidence on Origins of Winemaking in France

* * *
9,000 Year Old Ancient Near Eastern "Wine Culture," Traveling Land and Sea,
Reaches Southern Coastal France, Via Ancient Etruscans of Italy, in 6th-­5th Century BCE

winepressPHILADELPHIA, PA June 3, 2013—France is renowned the world over as a leader in the crafts of viticulture and winemaking—but the beginnings of French viniculture have been largely unknown, until now.

Imported ancient Etruscan amphoras and a limestone press platform, discovered at the ancient port site of Lattara in southern France, have provided the earliest known biomolecular archaeological evidence of grape wine and winemaking—and point to the beginnings of a Celtic or Gallic vinicultural industry in France circa 500-400 BCE. Details of the discovery are published as "The Beginning of Viniculture in France" in the June 3, 2013 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Dr. Patrick McGovern, Director of the Biomolecular Archaeology Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology and author of Ancient Wine: The Search for the Origins of Viniculture (Princeton University Press, 2006) is the lead author on the paper, which was researched and written in collaboration with colleagues from France and the United States.

Read more in this article by BBC News.


Bone Tumor in 120,000-Year-Old Neandertal Discovered

Bone Tumor Identified in 120,000-Year-Old Rib of Neandertal
From Famous Cave Excavation Site of Krapina in Central Europe

BoneTumorwebPHILADELPHIA, PA, June 2013—The first-known definitive case of a benign bone tumor has been discovered in the rib of a young Neandertal who lived about 120,000 years ago in what is now present-day Croatia. The bone fragment, which comes from the famous archaeological cave site of Krapina, contains by far the earliest bone tumor ever identified in the archaeological record. Details of the tumor confirmation, announced by an international research team led by Penn Museum Associate Curator and Paleoanthropologist Janet Monge, is available in a research paper, "Fibrous dysplasia in a 120,000+ year old Neandertal from Krapina, Croatia," in the online scientific journal PLOS ONE.

Read more about the discovery in this story from National Geographic.


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