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

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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.


Instagram Contest Invites Visitors to Take their Best @pennmuseum Shots


Penn Museum is fairly new to Instagram, and we're been loving all the great Museum photos that our visitors have posted.

We want to see more! This May, we're featuring a special contest to find the best Penn Museum photo on Instagram. The prize: two FREE double tickets good for admission to the Penn Museum and the Mütter Museum in Philadelphia!

Read more: Instagram Contest Invites Visitors to Take their Best @pennmuseum Shots


Children's Book Drive Now Through Mother's Day

GroundSwell, Penn Museum, Kick off PHILADELPHIA READS Children’s Book Drive

PHILAReadsMore than 400 people visited the Penn Museum Wednesday evening, April 10, for the Philadelphia READS Community Night, presented in conjunction with the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance’s GroundSwell initiative. The event marked the official kick off of a book drive for Philadelphia children. Kids and families enjoyed music, dance, and poetry performances, created their own poems, learned how to write in ancient Sumerian and in Egyptian hieroglyphs—and heard stories from books—as read by Museum curators and collections keepers throughout the many-cultured galleries. By night’s end, the Museum had collected more than 350 books for PHILADELPHIA READS, a non-profit organization that provides free books to Philadelphia pre-school and elementary school educators for use in their classrooms and programs.

Read more: Children's Book Drive Now Through Mother's Day


Richard Dawkins Receives the Wilton Krogman Award

Richard Dawkins received the Penn Museum's Wilton Krogman Award for Distinguished Achievement in Biological Anthropology Wednesday evening, March 12, 2013. The award was presented by Julian Siggers, Williams Director, Penn Museum, at the sold-out 2013 Bicentennial Philomatheon Society Annual Oration, held in the 1,500-seat Irvine Auditorium on the University of Pennsylvania campus.

Read more: Richard Dawkins Receives the Wilton Krogman Award


$100,000 Check from Treasures Sale & Show

Treasures Jewelry Sale & Show, Women’s Committee Fundraiser, Source of $100,000 Gift to the Penn Museum

Read more: $100,000 Check from Treasures Sale & Show


Children Measure the Penn Museum’s Iconic Sphinx in Unique Interactive Math Lesson

On a recent morning, ninety-nine years after the Sphinx arrived at the Penn Museum, Dr. Benjamin Ashcom posed a question to a group of sixth and seventh graders: How much does the Sphinx weigh?

Read more: Children Measure the Penn Museum’s Iconic Sphinx in Unique Interactive Math Lesson


Richard Dawkins to Receive Penn Museum's Wilton Krogman Award

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Sold Out Philomatheon Society Lecture, Where Award will be Presented, is Featured Part of University of Pennsylvania's "Year of Proof"

Read more: Richard Dawkins to Receive Penn Museum's Wilton Krogman Award


The Maya Jungle Divulges a New Reference to 2012

StelaeC frntWEB1News flash! In one of the more remote parts of the Guatemalan rainforest, researchers have unearthed an ancient Maya inscription that refers to 2012—the famed "end point" of the Maya calendar—and only the second such mention yet known. The date appears towards the end of a hieroglyphic text carved on a limestone block produced at the end of the 7th-century CE at La Corona, Guatemala. Calendrical reckonings count forward to anticipate two events: the end of the 10th Bak'tun in 830 and the end of the 13th Bak'tun in 2012.

According to Simon Martin, Co-Curator of MAYA 2012: Lords of Time, "It is a perfect illustration of the main role of the 'Long Count' calendar to promote the reign of kings by embedding their rule within past, present, and future time. They saw their dynasties governing for hundreds and even thousands of years to come—all in accord with the belief in a grand cosmic order where kings were not only sacred, they were part of the fabric of time itself. It is important and exciting to have more evidence for the importance of 2012 to these ancient Maya concepts."

In December this year the great odometer of the Long Count calendar will turn to, marking the end of the 13th Bak'tun. Whether this date falls on the 21st or 23rd is debated by scholars because there is conflicting evidence on the issue. Whichever day is correct the Maya gave us no dire warning of a cataclysmic outcome.

"As our exhibition MAYA 2012: Lords of Time explains, the Maya universe was conceived as a cosmic clock of unimaginable scale, stretching trillions upon trillions of years into the future and the past," noted Mr. Martin. "The greatest story the Maya have to offer us is their unique vision of time and how they built a system of government that put the calendar at the core of their claims to authority."

StelaeC sideWEBThe last time the Maya calendar was set to came in 3114 BCE, a date recorded on Quirigua Stela C from Guatemala. A towering replica of Stela C is on display in MAYA 2012: Lords of Time.

More about the new discovery, at excavations led in part by Penn Ph.D. Marcello Canuto, now director of Tulane University's Middle American Research Institute, can be found online in Science Daily.

Photos: Front and side (with date projection overlay) views of the massive replica of Cast of Stela C, Quirigua, Guatemala, on display in MAYA 2012: Lords of Time. Corpus of Maya Hieroglyphic Inscriptions program, Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology. Replica owned by the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University.


"Summer Wonder" Series Brings Family-Friendly Performances to Penn Museum

Kids2PHILADELPHIA, PA—Penn Museum's Summer Wonder series returns this season with a stellar lineup of performances and demonstrations that are perfect for the whole family. This weekly program offers an opportunity to enjoy international music, learn traditional Aztec dance, hear stories about the ancient Maya, and much more!

Summer Wonder programs run Wednesday mornings from June 20 through August 8, from 10:30 to 11:30 am, with the exception of July 4. The programs are free with Museum admission donation.

Read more: "Summer Wonder" Series Brings Family-Friendly Performances to Penn Museum


Julian Siggers Appointed Williams Director of Penn Museum

Julian Siggers.Julian Siggers has been appointed the Williams Director of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, effective July 1, 2012

The announcement was made April 26 by Penn President Amy Gutmann and Provost Vincent Price. 

Siggers is currently vice president for programs, education and content communication at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Canada’s largest research museum.  He has also served as director of the Institute for Contemporary Culture at the Royal Ontario Museum and as head of narrative and broadcast development at the United Kingdom’s National Museum of Science and Industry in London.  Siggers taught prehistoric archaeology for eight years at the University of Toronto, where he earned his Ph.D., with a specialization in Near Eastern prehistoric archaeology. 

“As we celebrate the Penn Museum’s 125th anniversary, Julian Siggers is the perfect director to lead the nation’s finest university archeological museum,” Gutmann said.  “Julian is deeply committed to the Museum’s essential missions of research, teaching and public outreach and engagement.  In addition, he has extensive experience with museum stewardship and growth.

“Julian is taking the helm at a time when the sterling reputation of the Penn Museum continues to grow with last year’s ‘Secrets of the Silk Road’ exhibit and the spectacular 30th anniversary Maya Weekend just around the corner. ”

Throughout his career, Siggers has been a pioneer in advancing public engagement with museums and archaeology. 

At the Royal Ontario Museum, he developed innovative initiatives designed to make it a vital part of contemporary life and an inviting means of public education and discovery.  He pursued new forms of exhibition, publication, programming, broadcasting and digital media, including partnerships with government agencies and a weekly show on the Discovery Channel, and he directed a Dead Sea Scrolls project that drew the museum’s highest attendance in two decades.  He was also an integral part of the team responsible for fundraising initiatives, especially during a highly successful $300 million capital campaign.

“Julian Siggers is one of the world’s leading figures in enhancing the vitality of museums and charting the future of museum practice,” Price said.  “A committed scholar of prehistoric archaeology, he understands the importance of working collaboratively with faculty and scholars while expanding the reach of their work to new and non-traditional audiences.  I am confident that he will be a galvanizing force for advancing the Penn Museum across our campus, our city and state and beyond.” 

In addition to his 1997 doctorate from the University of Toronto, Siggers earned an M.A. in prehistoric archaeology in 1988 and B.A. with honors in archaeology in 1986 from the Institute of Archaeology at University College London. 

“As we welcome Julian,” Price said, “we also express our gratitude to Richard Hodges for his dynamic leadership of the Museum over the past five years, and we wish him well in his new position as president of the American University of Rome.” 


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