University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Category: Museum


Lady Franklyn’s Quilled Mi’kmaq Box

By: Margaret Bruchac

In 1912, the Penn Museum purchased a birch bark box (object number NA 3851) decorated with intricate quillwork from British collector and antiquities dealer William Ockleford Oldman. During the late 1800s to the early 1900s, Oldman sold thousands of ethnographic materials to private collectors and museums (including the British Museum and Museum of the American […]


Investigating a Pipe Tomahawk

By: Margaret Bruchac

How does a tomahawk, as an object typically associated with violence, come to be connected to a smoking pipe used in rituals and ceremonies associated with peace? Who devised the idea of welding these different objects together to bring pipe tomahawks into being, and what are the cultural significances surrounding their presence? File these queries […]


Moose Hair Embroidered Birchbark Trays: French, Native, or Both

By: Margaret Bruchac

The intricate detailing on these birchbark trays was the first thing that caught my eye. It is difficult to fathom the amount of labor and intensive effort it takes to embroider such complex designs into a thin piece of wood. As seen in the images below, these three trays differ in shape, size, and content, […]


The Salmon Basket & Cannery Label

By: Margaret Bruchac

This salmon basket from the land of the Tlingit and Yakutat people is a useful piece of art, woven from spruce root, grass, and maidenhair fern in a twined fashion, and originally made to carry lightweight materials. It shows minimal evidence of wear. In size and shape and weaving patterns, it closely resembles other baskets […]


The Kaskasian Beaver Bowl

By: Margaret Bruchac

This bowl, in the form of a wooden beaver with a bowl-shaped carving sculpted into its back, is identified as having been crafted by the Kaskaskian people in the Illinois Territory.[1] The bowl was one of two non-identical beaver bowls collected in 1795 by George Turner, who was then serving as a judge in the […]


Looted Landscapes of Upper Egypt –

By: Anne Tiballi

As a graduate student, my research focus has been on the interaction between local communities and cultural heritage in Upper Egypt. One of the things I am keen to understand is the unauthorized exploitation of archaeological sites, what we often hear referred to as looting. What are the socio-economic, cultural, and historical factors that stimulate […]


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 […]


Juvenile Osteology Workshop: Analysis of the Individuals from Patakfalva

By: Anne Tiballi

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 […]


Art or Ethnography?

By: Anne Tiballi

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 […]


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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