As director of Penn Museum's Middle Mekong Archaeological Project in Laos, Dr. Joyce C. White, Associate Curator and archaeologist, is currently leading an excavation at the UNESCO World Heritage site of Luang Prabang. The project’s mission is to investigate the prehistory of the region, which has until now been untouched by modern archaeology.
The team’s progress is being documented by a daily blogwritten and posted by Amy Ellsworth, Penn Museum’s digital media developer. Her posts, which began on Jan. 1, will continue through Jan. 17. The blog has so far chronicled the discovery of what appears to be a burial pot from the Iron Age, around 2000 BCE, as well as two bones thought to be human and a piece of skull.
The archaeological team is focusing on a cave called Tham An Mah, once used as a Buddhist temple. When White leaves later this month, the project will be handed over to the Laos people to maintain and continue research. Read the daily blog at http://middlemekong.wordpress.com.
On Monday morning, January 11, 2010, twenty-eight United States army soldiers from Fort Dix, New Jersey--some who have already been in active duty in Iraq and/or Afghanistan-visited the Penn Museum for a special tour of Iraq's Ancient Past: Rediscovering Ur's Royal Cemetery and a private opportunity to visit the Museum, closed to the public on Mondays.
Penn Museum Deputy DIrector Dr. C. Brian Rose welcomed the soldiers and offered a short introduction. Katherine Blanchard, Keeper of the Museum's Near East Section, provided a tour to the soldiers, who will be deployed to Afghanistan soon.
Dr. Rose, who is also President of the Archaeological Institute of America, had traveled to Fort Dix in November, to speak to soldiers about cultural heritage issues and looting of archaeological sites in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Penn Museum visit was a follow up opportunity for the soldiers to see and learn more about the region's rich cultural heritage.
Staff Sergeant Stefanie Mason, who had done a tour of duty in Iraq in 2004, recognized some of the material in the exhibition as similar to what she had seen in Iraq. "I think its great having it preserved," she said. "It's important for people to see."
Major Brian Stoll, who had been in Iraq in 2003, examined an enlarged photograph of the Ur ziggarat. "I toured around Ur for about a day. We got to go up on to the top of the ziggarat," he said, recalling his experience at the site, where he noted "there is a feeling of a presence of history."
Sergeant Brian Diepa was one of the soldiers who had heard Dr. Rose's talk prior to the visit. "It was great-it motivated us to maintain and preserve their heritage," he said.
Iraq's Ancient Past: Rediscovering Ur's Royal Cemetery, a new Penn Museum exhibition which opened in October, features 4,500 year old world-famous art and artifacts excavated by the Penn Museum in the 1920s-30s at the royal tombs of Ur.
Photos, top to bottom: 1. Soldiers from Fort Dix, New Jersey in front of the exhibition Iraq's Ancient Past with Dr. C. Brian Rose, Deputy Director, Penn Museum (center) and Katherine Blanchard, Keeper, Near East Section (far right). 2. Soldiers looking at 4,500 year old skulls from the royal tombs of Ur. 3. Ssg Stefanie Mason looks at a case of artifacts in the exhibition. Photos: Penn Museum.
For the most updated information on programs offered at the Penn Museum, and for online pre-registration (optional or required for some programs) visit the Museum's website: www.penn.museum/calendar.
Wednesday, 6:00 pm
Great Discoveries Lecture Series
Lascaux: Caves of Wonder
Exploring ancient caves in the south of France, a group of boys in 1940 discovered 17,000-year-old paintings and artifacts made by our early ancestors. Harold Dibble, Curator-in-Charge, European Archaeology Section, discusses this great discovery and the impact it has had in the field of paleoanthropology. Admission: $5 in advance, $10 at the door, FREE for Museum Members and PennCard holders. Information: (215) 898-4890.
March 12 and 13
Friday, 6:00 pm and Saturday, 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Center for Ancient Studies Graduate Student Symposium
The Sincerest Form of Flattery: Emulation and Imitation in the Ancient World
Wednesday, 12:00 pm
Penn Museum Scholars Series
Bactrian Gold: Jewelry Workshop Traditions at Tillya Tepe, Afghanistan
Jane Hickman, Editor, Expedition magazine, speaks. Admission: Pay-what-you-want. Information: (215) 898-4890.
Saturday, 3:30 pm
Annual Korsyn Lecture
North, West, and South from the Valley of the Kings: A Pilgrim's Journey
Based upon his fieldwork at a number of sites around Egypt including the Valley of the Kings, Kharga Oasis, and the Isis Temple at Philae Island (Aswan), Eugene Cruz-Uribe, Professor of History, Northern Arizona University, discusses the role of pilgrimage in ancient Egypt, especially during Roman and Byzantine times. This program is sponsored by the American Research Center in Egypt, Pennsylvania Chapter (ARCE-PA). Admission: $5; $3 for Penn Museum members; free for ARCE-PA members. Information: (215) 898-4890.
Wednesday, 12:00 pm
Penn Museum Scholars Series
Pre-Columbian Monumental Earthworks of the Amazon
Clark L. Erickson, Associate Curator, American Section, speaks. Admission: Pay-what-you-want. Information: (215) 898-4890.
Friday, 7:00 pm
Peterson Lecture and Drexel Award Presentation
The Million-Piece Jigsaw Puzzle: Excavating a Cargo of Medieval Glass
George F. Bass, Professor Emeritus, Nautical Archaeology Program, Texas A&M University, and former curator at the Penn Museum, receives the Drexel Medal for Distinguished Achievement in Archaeology, before offering this talk.
Between 1977 and 1979, the Institute of Nautical Archaeology at Texas A&M University excavated a shipwreck from about AD 1025. The ship had carried a cargo of three tons of broken glass meant to be recycled. For the next two decades conservators worked year round to piece the glass back together, publishing their results in 2009. No less important was the reassembly of the ship's hull, and the tools, weapons, ceramics, games, and personal possessions it contained. Lecture admission: Pay-what-you-want. Reception with cash bar to follow: Free for Penn Museum members at the Fellows level and above; $15 general admission. Information: (215) 898-4890.
Saturday, 9:00 am - 6:00 pm
Who Owns Underwater Cultural Heritage? Perspectives on Archaeological Law and Ethics in the Mediterranean
This conference presents a forum for archaeologists working in territorial and international waters to discuss which legal and ethical standards direct our collective responsibility as stewards of world cultural heritage. International experts from academic and professional fields address the guidelines for archaeological practice outlined in the 2001 United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage, and which took effect in 2009. Archaeologists working in Mediterranean waters and representatives from countries around this sea consider how these guidelines should affect survey and excavation by North American and collaborative research teams in this historically multicultural environment. Co-sponsored by the Museum's Cultural Heritage Center. Admission: Pay-what-you-want. Information: (215) 898-4890.
Wednesday, 12:00 pm
Penn Museum Scholars Series
An Urban Center of Egypt's Middle Kingdom: The Archaeology of the Town of Wah-Sut
Josef Wegner, Associate Curator, Egyptian Section, speaks. Admission: Pay-what-you-want. Information: (215) 898-4890.
Wednesday, 6:30 pm
Evening Lecture with Colonel Matthew Bogdanos
Thieves of Baghdad
In 2003, following the pillaging of the Iraq Museum in Baghdad, the United States dispatched a highly specialized multi-agency task force to the site to determine what happened and how to recover as many stolen artifacts as possible. U.S. Marine Colonel and New York Assistant District Attorney Matthew Bogdanos, who holds a master's degree in Classics from Columbia University, volunteered to lead that investigation. In this talk, he describes his team's recovery of thousands of history's most priceless antiquities, details the ongoing efforts of the international community, and exposes the black market in stolen antiquities that is funding terrorism in Iraq and elsewhere. Admission: Pay-what-you-want. Book signing to follow the lecture. Information: (215) 898-4890.
Wednesday, 6:00 pm
Great Discoveries Lecture
Lucy in Our Eyes with Diamonds
The fossil from Ethiopia called Lucy turned the paleoanthropology world upside down! Janet Monge, Acting-Curator-in-Charge, Physical Anthropology Section, talks about the find, and discusses why Lucy continues to be the most talked about fossil in all of human history. Admission: $5 in advance, $10 at the door, free for Museum Members and PennCard holders. Information: (215) 898-4890.
April 9, 10, and 11
Friday, 6:00 pm; Saturday 9:00 am - 5:00 pm; Sunday 9:00 am - 1:00 pm
28th Annual Maya Weekend
Maya Women: Figures of Enduring Strength and Power
More than a dozen world-renowned Maya scholars come together at this annual event, featuring illustrated talks, engaging films, interactive hieroglyphic workshops for beginners and more advanced glyph readers-and an optional Maya banquet with an after dinner speaker. With this year's theme, Maya Women, the Weekend takes a closer look at the central role that women have always played in the social history of Maya peoples. Whether sustaining Classic Era dynasties or advocating for justice in contemporary Latin America, Maya women are commanding figures. In many households, they anchor daily life and religious practice for their families and communities. Over centuries they have been pivotal figures resisting cultural annihilation, and today many have become successful political leaders and entrepreneurs. Admission: $175; $140 Museum members. Dinners and lunches, additional fees. Information: (215) 898-4890.
Thursday, 6:30 pm
The Secrets of Tomb 10A: The Tomb of Djehutynakht at Bersha
Rita Freed, John F. Cogan, Jr., and Mary L. Comille Chair, Art of the Ancient World, Museum of Fine Arts-Boston, speak at this program, sponsored by the American Research Center in Egypt, Pennsylvania Chapter (ARCE-PA). Admission: $5; $3 for Penn Museum members; free for ARCE-PA members. Information: (215) 898-4890.
April 16, 17
Friday, 6:30 pm - Saturday, 9:00 am
40 Winks with the Sphinx
Penn Museum's sleepover program, geared to ages 6 to 12 and their families or chaperones, invites guests to an overnight "expedition" of the Museum. The night's activities take intrepid explorers on a journey through time and across continents, with hands-on opportunities through games, crafts, and more! A scavenger hunt and a flashlight expedition through the galleries offer new ways to connect with the ancient artifacts awaiting discovery. Later in the night, explorers roll out their sleeping bags-to doze at the foot of the third largest granite Sphinx in the world! Advance reservations: www.penn.museum/sleepovers. $50 per person, $45 Museum members. Information: (215) 898-4890.
Sunday, 1:00 pm
New Series! Travel the World in a Day
Rome the Eternal City
Guests to the Penn Museum's new Travel the World in a Day series have the opportunity to take an armchair tour of distinctive locales as seen through the ages-no passport required! From its founding more than 2,800 years ago, Rome has become known as an "eternal city" world-renowned for its architecture. In this afternoon program, a panel of speakers explore four time periods of this astounding city: Classical Rome, one of history's most powerful civilizations; Medieval Rome; Renaissance Rome; and Modern Rome, a bustling cosmopolitan metropolis. Admission: $20; $15 Penn Museum members. Information: (215) 898-4890.
Wednesday, 12:00 pm
Penn Museum Scholars Series
Prehistoric Research and Heritage Management in Luang Prabang Laos
Joyce C. White, Associate Curator, Asian Section, and Co-Director, Middle Mekong Archaeology Project, speaks. Admission: Pay-what-you-want. Information: (215) 898-4890.
The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology is dedicated to the study and understanding of human history and diversity. Founded in 1887, the Museum has sent more than 400 archaeological and anthropological expeditions to all the inhabited continents of the world. With an active exhibition schedule and educational programming for children and adults, the Museum offers the public an opportunity to share in the ongoing discovery of humankind's collective heritage.
Penn Museum is located at 3260 South Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104 (on Penn's campus, across from Franklin Field and adjacent to SEPTA's University City Regional Rail station serving the R1, R2 and R3 lines). Museum hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 am to 4:30 pm, Sunday 1 to 5 pm. Closed Mondays and holidays. Admission donation is $10 for adults; $7 for senior citizens (65 and above); $6 children (6 to 17) and full-time students with ID; free to Members, PennCard holders, and children 5 and younger; "pay-what-you-want" after 3:30pm Tuesday through Saturday, and after 4pm Sunday. Penn Museum can be found on the web at www.penn.museum. For general information call (215) 898-4000.
Monday, 14 December at 10:00 am
University of Pennsylvania anthropologist Philippe Bourgois spent 12 years studying, learning from and often living with a community of homeless heroin addicts and crack smokers in San Francisco. With photographer Jeff Schonberg, he documented their lives, survival mechanisms and perspectives, and their groundbreaking work of ethnography, called “Righteous Dopefiend,” is captured in book form and in the Penn Museum exhibition Righteous Dopefiend. Philippe Bourgois is featured on Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane to help us understand the dynamics of what he calls “a community of addicted bodies.”
For the Thanksgiving holiday, the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology will close at 2:00 pm Wednesday, November 25, and the Museum will be closed all day Thursday, November 26 (Thanksgiving Day). Normal hours will resume Friday, November 27.
For the December holidays, the Penn Museum will close at 2:00 pm Thursday, December 24. The Museum will be closed all day Friday, December 25 (Christmas Day), resuming regular hours for Saturday, December 26, Sunday, December 27 (closed Mondays), Tuesday, December 29 and Wednesday, December 30.
The Museum will close at 2:00 pm Thursday, December 31, and all day Friday, January 1, in celebration of the New Year holiday, resuming regular hours Saturday, January 2, 2010.
We wish you a peaceful and joyous holiday season!
Regular Penn Museum hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00 am to 4:30 pm; Sunday, 1:00 to 5:00 pm. Closed Mondays.
Penn Museum's 2012 Prediction?
(Don't Stop Payments on Your Life Insurance Just Yet)
Prognostications for the year 2012 are piling up, with multiple books, magazine articles, and now a blockbuster movie (2012, in theaters November 13, 2009), all concerned with the topic. What is said is intriguing, and for some genuinely worrying, but how much of it has a basis in ancient Maya culture and belief? Specifically, did the Maya really predict that the world will end on December 21, 2012?
"Not at all," says Simon Martin, Associate Curator, American Section at the University of Pennsyvlania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. A specialist in ancient Maya writing, he explains that this is simply the end date of one long cycle of time, and the beginning of another one. "The Maya made calculations spanning millions of years and the 5,200-year cycle that ends in 2012 is a rather short one. The date itself is mentioned only once in all the many thousands of Maya inscriptions, where it is used as an arbitrary anchor date for the matters under discussion and not associated with any particular prophesy. We know that the Maya believed in a world after 2012 since they mention events set well beyond this, with an inscription at Palenque, Mexico, describing one in the year 4772."
"Just remember," says Elin Danien, curator of the Museum's exhibition Painted Metaphors: Pottery and Politics of the Ancient Maya, "all calendars have arbitrary starting dates, created by different cultures to allow them to measure the passage of time in particular ways.
"The predictions of global calamity may be said to originate in deep antiquity, but they really stem from the troubles and anxieties of our own time. What is truly remarkable about the Maya," says Dr. Danien, "was their ability to create accurate calendars, and use a unique writing system to record their history, cosmology, and the events that shaped their world.
"Their real accomplishments can be seen at the Penn Museum, in objects displayed in the Central American Gallery and in Painted Metaphors. We don't have to create fantasies about them. They were an extraordinary people who developed a unique civilization that still fascinates the modern world."
Caption: Visitors at Painted Metaphors exhibition.
Now you can help the Penn Museum care for its Collections and get a great gift at the same time with our newly launched Adopt an Artifact Program. Just in time for the holidays! Penn Museum invites visitors to explore the wonders of history and culture from civilizations around the world through an extraordinary collection of nearly one million artifacts – objects created by humans for every day or sacred use. Just one percent of these artifacts are on public display at any one time, but the rest still need proper housing and care. Now you can help the Penn Museum to properly care for all the artifacts in its collection by “adopting” one of your own favorites. All funds raised from adoptions will support the preservation, storage, and management of our artifacts.
Just launched! A new online exhibit for Iraq's Ancient Past: Rediscovering Ur’s Royal Cemetery.
The material from the 1922-1934 excavation of ancient Ur, located in southern Iraq near present-day Nasiriyah, is perhaps the most important material in the Penn Museum’s collection. The location itself, Biblical Ur of the Chaldees, birthplace of the Patriarch Abraham, holds tremendous importance, while the excavation marked one of the most important archaeological finds to date. The exhibition and its website shed light on these objects, as well as the understanding of archaeological practices from the past and the present, and the issues of cultural preservation in Iraq.
The exhibit tells the story of the remarkable excavation at Ur, and the finding of the Royal Cemetery including the thoughts and theories of Sir Leonard Woolley, who was the head of the excavation for its 12 seasons. Visitors also get a glimpse of the culture of the Sumerian people who created the elaborate cemetery structure more than 4000 years ago. The exhibit presents some modern findings, theories, and insights that have come to light on the objects since their original excavation. Finally, the exhibit will discuss some of the issues of cultural preservation in Iraq, both during the time of the excavation and now.
The Ban Chiang Project is dedicated to pursuing scientific research on the prehistoric culture revealed by the excavations at the site of Ban Chiang and neighboring sites in northern northeast Thailand. The investigations are being conducted by a multinational, multidisciplinary team of scholars. Work on Ban Chiang at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology is now focused both on bringing to full publication the excavation undertaken in the 1970s and expanding our knowledge of the prehistory of the Middle Mekong River Basin by survey and excavation in Laos.
Wednesday, 6:00 pm
Great Discoveries Lecture Series
China's First Emperor: Man and the Empire for all Eternity
Nancy S. Steinhardt, Curator, Asian Section, examines the funerary world of the First Emperor of China, who in death broke with the millennial-old precedent of sacrificial burial and instead had thousands of life-size clay warriors accompany him into the afterlife. A gallery tour and light refreshments follow. This program is part of a monthly Great Discovery Lecture Series running through June 2010. $5 in advance; $10 at the door; Free for Penn Museum members. Information: (215) 898-4890.
Saturday, 11:00 am to 4:00 pm
World Culture Family Day: Chinese New Year Celebration
Welcome in the Year of the Tiger at the 29th annual day-long extravaganza celebration. Bring the whole family and celebrate the New Year through a wide variety of music and dance performances, children's activities, storytelling, arts and crafts, and martial and healing arts workshops. The day ends with a drum roll, a roar, and the popular Lion Dance parade. Free with Museum admission donation. Museum-wide. Information: (215) 898-4890.
His Golden Touch: The Gordion Drawings of Piet de Jong
26 September 2009 through 10 January 2010
One of the great archaeological illustrators of the 20th century, Piet de Jong (1887-1967) was invited, in 1957, to the site of Gordion in central Turkey, where the Penn Museum had been conducting excavations since 1950. He prepared drawings of artifacts as well as a series of watercolors that reconstruct the remarkable wall paintings in the so-called Painted House, ca. 500 BCE. It was an extraordinary season at the site, highlighted by the excavation of a large grave mound known as Tumulus MM (the “Midas Mound” for its association with the legendary King Midas or his family), which provided a wealth of information about the Phrygians in the eighth century BCE. His Golden Touch features more than 40 original drawings and watercolors by de Jong, as well as a selection of objects from the Museum’s excavations at Gordion, reproductions of several artifacts from tombs at the site, and excerpts from two rare color films made at the site in the 1950s. Ann Blair Brownlee, Associate Curator in the Mediterranean Section, and Alessandro Pezzati, the Museum’s Senior Archivist, are co-curators of the exhibition, with the assistance of Peter Cobb and Colleen Kron, graduate students in Penn’s Art and Archaeology of the Mediterranean World program, and Gareth Darbyshire, Gordion Archivist. The exhibition is sponsored by the Turkish Cultural Foundation and an anonymous donor. The Merle-Smith Gallery.
Find out what actually goes on at a dig. Follow the progress of the Mt. Lykaion Excavation and Survey Project as Dr. David Romano and his team of researchers work at the Sanctuary of Zeus during field season 2009.
One of the most famous Pan-Hellenic sanctuaries of ancient Greece, located only 17 miles from its more well-known neighbor at Olympia, Mt. Lykaion claims a spectacular mountain-top location. Find out what the researchers do in the trenches as they work to uncover, conserve, document, illustrate and register objects.