National Science Foundation Awards Team a $185,000 Research Grant
22 AUGUST 2007, PHILADELPHIA, PA—In Africa today, cattle pastoralism and dairy farming are principal livelihoods for millions of people, integrated into most aspects of cultural life. In the last few years, harsh and unpredictable climate fluctuations in East Africa—probable signs of global warming—have affected the region’s pastoralists, and threaten their long-term ability to continue their semi-nomadic way of life. Surprisingly, until recent decades little research had been conducted on the origins and spread of cattle domestication across that huge continent.
International Partnership Project Seeks to Fill in the Blanks of Southeast Asian Prehistory
19 OCTOBER 2007, PHILADELPHIA, PA—As archaeologists in the last half century have set about reconstructing the prehistory of Southeast Asia, data from one country—centrally located Laos—was conspicuously missing. Little archaeology has occurred in Laos since before World War II, and beginning in the mid-1970s, Laos shut its doors completely to outside researchers. International scholars had to content themselves with information from excavation and survey work mostly from neighboring Thailand.
New Chemical Analyses Take Confirmation Back 500 Years and Reveal that the Impetus for Cacao Cultivation was an Alcoholic Beverage
13 NOVEMBER 2007, PHILADELPHIA, PA—–The earliest known use of cacao––the source of our modern day chocolate––has been pushed back more than 500 years, to somewhere between 1400 and 1100 B.C.E., thanks to new chemical analyses of residues extracted from pottery excavated at an archaeological site at Puerto Escondido in Honduras. The new evidence also indicates that, long before the flavor of the cacao seed (or bean) became popular, it was the sweet pulp of the chocolate fruit, used in making a fermented (5% alcohol) beverage, which first drew attention to the plant in the Americas.
Mt. Lykaion Excavation and Survey Project Finds Early Activity Atop Arcadia’s Famous Mountain
22 JANUARY 2008, PHILADELPHIA, PA—The Greek traveler, Pausanias, living in the second century, CE, would probably recognize the spectacular site of the Sanctuary of Zeus at Mt. Lykaion, and particularly the altar of Zeus. At 4,500 feet above sea level, atop the altar provides a breathtaking, panoramic vista of Arcadia.
20 MARCH 2008, PHILADELPHIA, PA—Homer, living centuries before the Classical era of Athens, is renowned for his epic tales of an even earlier time, when the Mycenaeans of the Late Bronze Age (ca. 1600–1100 B.C.)—with a rich warrior aristocracy and wide-ranging trade—came to rule the land and the seas.
Archaeologists have uncovered great Mycenaean cities, like Mycenae and Pylos, extraordinary circular burial chambers, elegant frescoes, even written language, as well as widespread evidence of Mycenaean expansion and trade—but no harbors or port towns to help them understand the far-flung connections, or the rapid expansion and equally sudden demise, of this ancient Greek culture—until now.
07 APRIL 2008, PHILADELPHIA, PA—The Olympic torch, long the symbol of world unity, hasn’t had a smooth run thus far this year, as it makes its way to the 2008 summer games in Beijing, China. The flame was extinguished three times in Paris on Monday, April 7, as Pro-Tibetan protesters made their presence known. The disturbances put a halt to the torch relay in France, as security officials placed the flame on a bus to transport it to its end point in the country.
01 AUGUST 2008, PHILADELPHIA, PA—The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology has received a four-year, $300,000 grant from the Henry Luce Foundation to organize and run a cross-borders, international collaborative research program in Laos and Thailand. “Strengthening the Future of Southeast Asian Archaeology: Investigating the Prehistoric Settlement of the Mekong Middle Basin,” will be directed by Dr. Joyce White, Senior Research Scientist in the Asian Section at Penn Museum, co-Director of the Middle Mekong Archaeology Project since 2001, and Director of the Museum’s Ban Chiang, Thailand Project since 1982.
18 AUGUST 2008, PHILADELPHIA, PA—The Penn Cultural Heritage Center, dedicated to expanding both scholarly and public awareness, discussion, and debate about the complex issues surrounding the world’s rich—and endangered—cultural heritage, has been established at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Philadelphia.
Dr. Richard M. Leventhal, Professor of Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania, Curator, American Section at Penn Museum, and former Williams Director of Penn Museum, is founder and director of the new Penn Cultural Heritage Center. PCHC draws upon the expertise of the Museum’s curators, researchers, graduate students, other Penn department faculty, and outside scholars, for its programs. More than a year in the planning, the new Center has already piloted some spring 2008 programs for law enforcement professionals. It launches its public programming initiatives beginning in the fall of 2008.
14 DECEMBER 2008, PHILADELPHIA, PA—“I like the variety,” said Erika Durham CT Technologist, Department of Radiology, at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. “These are very different populations from what I work with during the week. And just the whole thing—helping science—that is cool.”
For about one year, Ms. Durham has been one of HUP’s CT technologists assisting scientists at the University of Pennsylvania Museum with a major, National Science Foundation funded project to cat scan the Museum’s skeletal collections of thousands of human and primate specimens, as well as collections from Columbia University, the American Museum of Natural History—and, on this early Sunday morning—a collection of skulls from the Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia.
Project Field Director David Gilman Romano Offers Update at January 27 Lecture "The Search for Zeus: The Mt. Lykaion Excavation and Survey Project"
21 JANUARY 2009, PHILADELPHIA, PA—In the third century BCE, the Greek poet Callimachus wrote a 'Hymn to Zeus' asking the ancient, and most powerful, Greek god whether he was born in Arcadia on Mt. Lykaion or in Crete on Mt. Ida.
A Greek and American team of archaeologists working on the Mt. Lykaion Excavation and Survey Project believe they have at least a partial answer to the poet’s query. New excavation evidence indicates that Zeus' worship was established on Mt. Lykaion as early as the Late Helladic period, if not before, more than 3,200 years ago. According to Dr. David Gilman Romano, Senior Research Scientist, Mediterranean Section, University of Pennsylvania Museum, and one of the project’s co-directors, it is likely that a memory of the cult's great antiquity survived there, leading to the claim that Zeus was born in Arcadia.
10 MARCH 2009, PHILADELPHIA, PA—In earlier years this exhibition might have been only a display of interesting objects. Now, breakthroughs in our ability to read Maya hieroglyphs, new data from new archaeological discoveries, and new scientific techniques allow us to look at the artifacts in this exhibition from a fresh perspective. Scientific research leading up to and incorporated in to this exhibition include:
Penn Museum and Penn Medicine Researchers Collaborate To Test Promising Medicinal Compounds Once Employed by Our Ancestors
14 APRIL 2009, PHILADELPHIA, PA—Hippocrates (ca. 460-370 BCE), the most famous of ancient physicians, once noted: "Wine is fit for man in a wonderful way provided that it is taken with good sense by the sick as well as the healthy." Now new archaeochemical evidence, backed up by increasingly sophisticated scientific testing techniques, are pointing to a long history of medicinal remedies tried, tested, and sometimes lost, throughout millennia of human history—herbs, tree resins, and other organic materials dispensed by ancient fermented beverages like wine and beer.
15 APRIL 2009, PHILADELPHIA, PA—Ian Hodder, Dunlevie Family Professor, Department of Cultural and Social Anthropology, Stanford University, and Director of the Catalhöyük Archaeological Project in central Turkey, became the 29th recipient of the University of Pennsylvania Museum’s Lucy Wharton Drexel Medal for archaeological achievement. Dr. Richard Hodges, the Museum’s Williams Director, presented him with the medal, the top honor that the Penn Museum bestows on a scholar, before Dr. Hodder presented a special talk, “A Conversation about Community Engagement in Archaeology,” to a public audience in the Museum's Rainey Auditorium Tuesday evening 14 April 2009.
29 APRIL 2009, PHILADELPHIA, PA--PUM II and Hapi-Men, two of the ancient Egyptian mummies on display at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, have had their share of medical scrutiny: PUM II was both x-rayed and autopsied in 1973, while Hapi-Men underwent an x-ray in 1980.
Early Sunday morning, April 19th, they traveled to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, for yet another medical procedure, and the chance for researchers to find out more about these 2000-plus year old mummies—this time, through state-of-the-art CT scanning. They were joined by Hapi-Men’s loyal (mummified) pet, affectionately known as Hapi-Puppy. All three mummies were successfully CT scanned, and returned to the Penn Museum before 9 a.m.—and before the hospital’s living human patients’ CT scan appointments began.
Young Friends of the Penn Museum Present Mystery Theater in the Penn Museum’s Upper Egyptian Gallery Thursday, May 7, at 6:00 pm
10 APRIL 2009, PHILADELPHIA, PA—Cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, murder and intrigue all unfold among the ancient Egyptian artifacts of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology at 6:00 pm on Thursday, 07 May 2009 when the Young Friends of the Penn Museum present Mummy Dearest!
Sleepover Programs at the Penn Museum Offered Select Friday Nights
27 APRIL 2009, PHILADELPHIA, PA—Flashlights at the ready! Pith helmets optional; sleeping bags recommended! For the first time ever, children ages 6 to 12 and their parents or chaperones can take an overnight “expedition” to the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology select weekend nights in late Spring and Fall 2009, when the Penn Museum offers a sleepover experience like none other: Forty Winks with the Sphinx. Dates for the sleepovers (advance registration is required): Fridays, May 29th, June 5th, June 12th, and into the fall, September 25th, October 30th (with a Halloween twist), November 20th, and December 4th.
28 APRIL 2009, PHILADELPHIA, PA—Richard Hodges, Williams Director of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Loa P. Traxler as the Museum’s Andrew W. Mellon Associate Deputy Director. The three-year appointment begins 01 June 2009.
A new position at the Penn Museum, the Mellon Associate Deputy Director will oversee the Museum’s academic programs, seeking to strengthen academic relations between the Museum and the University and increase awareness of the Museum as a dynamic resource for interdisciplinary learning. The position is intended to deepen and strengthen relationships with Penn faculty members and to encourage them to use the Museum’s extensive collections as teaching tools for both undergraduate and graduate students, as well as to strengthen relations among the University’s various Research Centers and the Museum. Dr. Traxler will also be responsible, working with a faculty committee, for the creation of a new interdepartmental World Archaeology major with courses linked to each of the Museum’s research sections, with additional courses in cultural heritage management, conservation, and museology.