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.


Getting our collections on the web – step one.

By: Maureen Callahan

Non-nerds may want to amuse themselves elsewhere… So, we at the museum are moving to a new collections management system. A year away from data migration, the archives and the collections staff are teaming up to figure out the best way to make sense of our images, clean them up, take care of them, and […]

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Tuk Tuks, Bombies, and Front-loading Washers

By: Amy Ellsworth

After about 60 hours of travel, we made it back to Pennsylvania with all our limbs and luggage in tact. We took a tuk tuk to the Luang Prabang airport thinking we needed 3 hours for international travel even though there are only about 5 departing flights per day. Some of the tuk tuks had […]

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Ping!

By: Amy Ellsworth

Somehow, the ride back from Tham Luong Kwai did not seem as treacherous as the ride in. The loud metallic banging as we bottomed out every few feet did not trigger the same death siren in my head as it had before. I wonder if this is how these brave archaeologists, geologists and adventurers do […]

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Tomorrow’s history… today’s elephants

By: Maureen Callahan

In the archives, we tend to have about a thirty-year lag between something happening at the museum and a researcher wanting to look at those records. However, it’s worth reminding our public that the Penn Museum is actively involved in dozens of research projects, and that the scientists and others involved in this process are […]

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Land of Office Plants and Annuals

By: Amy Ellsworth

I slipped on a banana peel walking home from the internet cafe. I’m not sure if this has ever happened to anyone in the past century who was not a cartoon or a vaudvillian with a handle bar mustache. There are little bananas everywhere. They are the perfect size. By the time you get to […]

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Morning in Tham Luong Kwai

By: Amy Ellsworth

The following morning I tried to make my way behind the hog pen and I couldn’t make a single move without triggering the attention of the crowd of children. I searched for a good spot and everywhere I looked was occupied with pigs, chickens, and children. I finally had to rig up a kind of […]

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Tham Loum and Tham Dook

By: Amy Ellsworth

The night before leaving for the trip to the village of Ban Loum Kwai to collect more stalagmite samples and survey Tham Dook, we stopped at the night market to pick of some food for 9 people for two days and two nights. We splurged on 16 baguettes and bought some beautiful breads of varying […]

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A Family in Every Pot

By: Amy Ellsworth

We made it back to camp after two days of driving a 1985 Hyundai van on steep single-track rock-strewn roads looking down at the tops of banana trees, negotiating with the village elders, hammering stalagmites, sleeping on concrete, crying at the site of someone’s dinner, having a personal moment with a large hog. And then […]

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Guano and Sacrificial Pigs

By: Amy Ellsworth

Last night we missed a big party at the camp. They held a ceremony called a Bar Sri in Thai for Mu’s last day on excavation. Everyone sat around an offering of duck, beer, bananas and chips with candles flickering. Everyone tied white string around each others’ wrists and incanted a blessing: “May you live […]

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Elephant Experience

By: Amy Ellsworth

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2wSDH8QzaiQ&hl=en_US&fs=1&] Kathleen, Mick, Michael and I sat down to our yogurt (which is all we could safely digest) at cafe Joma and one of us finally admitted that we half regretted signing up to ride elephants on our day off. After trekking up and down mountains and sleeping on cement, all we really wanted to […]

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