University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Welcome to the Penn Museum blog. First launched in January 2009, the Museum blog now has over 800 posts covering a range of topics in the categories of Museum, Collection, Exhibitions, Research, and By Location. Here you’ll hear directly from our staff and Penn students about their work, research, experiences, and discoveries. To explore the Museum's other digital content, visit The Digital Penn Museum.


Let’s Talk About Sex (Education)

By: Anne Tiballi and Caroline Hodge

Everyone has a story about sex education. From awkward conversations with their mother aided by a discreet pamphlet talking vaguely about “changes,” to school health class presentations consisting of one graphic picture after another of the effects of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), to a simulation where students had to plan for life with an unexpected […]

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Making the Familiar Strange: Reflections on Fieldwork at a Children’s Museum

By: Anne Tiballi and Elizabeth Oakley

An anthropologist, a 6-year-old, and a 4-year-old walk into a museum. Rather than a punchline to a bizarre joke, this is the scenario that defined my second summer of fieldwork at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis (TCM). I had visited this museum so often when I was a kid, and I’ve always consider myself the […]

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Shuidonggou – A Time and Space Tunnel of China’s Archaeology Study – Li Li

By: Anne Tiballi and Li Li

Shuidonggou is a beautiful national park located in Ningxia province, North West China. The Shuidonggou Site is the earliest Paleolithic site in China, and is called the “Birthplace of Prehistoric Archaeology in China.” Shuidonggou was first discovered by a Belgian paleontologist named Kent while he was doing missionary work in China in 1920. He found […]

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Summer in Sant’Angelo Muxaro – Braden Cordivari

By: Anne Tiballi and Braden Cordivari

The town of Sant’Angelo Muxaro sits on a rocky crag above the Platanis River Valley in south-central Sicily, about an hour drive up into the mountains from the famous temples at Agrigento. I visited the site during a weekend trip away from excavating at Morgantina as part of Dr. Alex Walthall of University of Texas […]

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Getting the Right Perspective

By: Anne Tiballi and Emily French

This summer, I got to spend two awesome months in Italy. I am a fourth-year PhD candidate in the Art and Archaeology of the Mediterranean World program, recently recovered from my last year of coursework and PhD exams and about to jump headfirst into a dissertation. This summer was particularly valuable for me at this […]

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Buddhist Statues, Inside and Out

By: Samantha Thompson

To the untrained eye, the Sakyamuni Buddha in the China Gallery appears visually similar to other nearby Buddha sculptures. While it borrows from traditional Buddhist iconography found during the Yuan Dynasty, certain aspects of the sculpture are unique to this Sakyamuni Buddha. The sculpture was made with dry-lacquer, a rare and laborious technique, and strikes […]

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Juvenile Osteology Workshop: Analysis of the Individuals from Patakfalva

By: Anne Tiballi and Julia Simons

This summer, I attended a workshop on Juvenile Osteology in Odorheiu Secuiesc, Romania. The students in the field school (“fieldies”) work at the excavation site, excavating, mapping, and pulling the skeletons buried at the church at Patakfalva, while the students in the lab (“labbies”) analyze the individuals excavated in previous field sessions. The individuals from […]

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Art or Ethnography?

By: Anne Tiballi and Christopher Green

Museums in the US, England, France, and throughout the world are full of objects collected during their respective colonial periods. Museums have been grappling with the colonial legacies embodied in their collections and how to represent them, and no singular answer has emerged. However, at the end of the 20th century, a movement pioneered by […]

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Puabi’s Ever-Evolving Diadems

By: Idil Demirdag

All the objects in the Penn Museum have incredible histories. Few of them have a journey as enigmatic and evolving as Queen Puabi’s diadems. In fact, the three individual pieces of diadems seen in the Middle East Galleries right now were once displayed as a six-piece set, and prior to that were all part of […]

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Illustrating History: An Interview with John Pearson

Warrior's Grave Illustration

By: Julianna Whalen

As I walk down the street, I pass donkeys carrying food in saddlebags and children making their way home. They weave through tight streets and around dogs laying in the middle of the path. Birds flit through the sky. As I make my way toward the ziggurat, a crescent moon begins to rise over the […]

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