University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Category: World


Kenya Overview

By: Amy Ellsworth

The Laikipia Plateau of Kenya, East Africa, was home to some of our earliest ancestors. Overlooking the Great Rift Valley, often referred to as the “cradle of mankind,” it has evidence of hominid occupation from the Early Stone Age to the present. The focus of the present study is on the period of transition from […]


Maasai Mama

By: Amy Ellsworth

Kathleen was telling me about some of the people we will be meeting including Paul Kunoni, our Maasai translator and other archaeologists from the National Museum of Kenya, when she referred to a Maasai woman as her “co-wife.” Risking bad manners for the sake of curiosity, I asked her what she meant by co-wife… She […]


Gearing Up

By: Amy Ellsworth

Kathleen Ryan, Associate Curator of the African Section at the Penn Museum, approached me months ago about going to Kenya with her team to video tape her research on the Laikipia Plateau. “Sure!” I said, thinking I would never get approval from above. It seemed like too much of a fantasy opportunity to ever materialize […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


Native American Voices at the Penn Museum

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