University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Category: Collection


Celebrating 50 Years of Professional Conservation at the Penn Museum

By: Nina Owczarek

The Conservation Department is celebrating its 50th anniversary this fall. The lab was first established in 1966 and is one of the first archaeology / anthropology conservation labs in the US staffed by professional conservators. In the early years, the focus was on conservation treatments. But under the leadership of Virginia Greene, who began working […]


Seeking Zen in the Museum Storeroom: What Do X-Files, Gurgling Sounds, and Museums Have in Common?

By: Lucy Fowler Williams

Something HUGE has been happening at the Penn Museum in one of seven American Section storerooms. For the past two years, downstairs in the sub-basement (the basement below the basement), in a room about the size of a football field, two small teams of Inventory Assistants have been moving carefully from shelf to shelf, checking […]


1966 Film Made in the Navajo Nation Gets Sound 50 years Later

By: Kate Pourshariati

Thanks to a unique set of circumstances a developing relationship has borne fruit this year for the Museum Archives. A film made in 1966 by Dr. Richard Chalfen, who generously donated his work to the Museum a few years ago, was never quite complete; it was lacking a sound track. In 2015 our Film Archivist […]


A Conservation “Vacation”

By: Molly Gleeson

For three weeks in April, we had an intern working with us in the Conservation Department, specifically, with me in the Artifact Lab. I hesitate to call her an intern because this “intern” is someone who has at least ten more years of experience than I do as a conservator. In fact, she was one of […]


Maya and Guatemalan History in Film — Live from the Archives

people in Guatemala celebrate the end of a reign of terror

By: Kate Pourshariati

Archival Guatemalan footage from 1940 enriches a new film covering a long span of history.


Buddhist Medicine

By: Stephen Lang

The Asian Section is happy to host a guest blog post by C. Pierce Salguero, Assistant Professor of Asian History and Religious Studies at Penn State University’s Abington College. He is the author of Translating Buddhist Medicine in Medieval China, published by Penn Press in 2014. (Photo selection and captions by Stephen Lang) Medicine in Early Buddhism Knowledge […]


Eastern Turkey Feather Headdress

By: Margaret Bruchac

This object analysis was conducted for the Spring 2016 course Ethnohistory of the Native Northeast. Students are studying Native American objects in the Penn Museum collections by combining close material analyses (elements, construction, design, condition, etc.) with other forms of evidence: textual, photographic, historical, and ethnographic. In many cases, the objects we’re studying have little to no provenance data. So, we are […]


Considering the Feather Headdress

By: Margaret Bruchac

During the Spring 2016 course Ethnohistory of the Native Northeast, students are studying Native American objects in the Penn Museum collections by combining close material analyses (elements, construction, design, condition, etc.) with other forms of evidence: textual, photographic, historical, and ethnographic. In many cases, the objects we’re studying have little to no provenance data. So, we are seeking out similar objects, reaching out […]


Of Daggers and Scabbards: Evidence from Organic Pseudomorphs and X-Radiography

By: Tessa de Alarcon

As part of the Ur Digitization Project, I have been spending time looking at the metal tools from the site.  As Kyra Kaercher has already noted in her blog post, many of the copper alloys from Ur have organic pseudomorphs.  These are sort of like fossils, in that they are organics which have been preserved […]


Ancient Ur and Historic Iraq: Woolley’s 11th Season

By: Brad Hafford

Ur Digitization Project Blog, March 2016 Spotlight on Archival Documents Field Report dated December 31, 1932 Over the past few months I’ve been going over the reports that Leonard Woolley sent from the field 80-90 years ago. This analysis is helping to create pages at Ur-Online that track the yearly progress of excavation. We have collected the field reports […]


Native American Voices at the Penn Museum

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