University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Jewelry Making


November 15, 2014

While last month’s Atlatl Making Workshop put Penn students’ physical agility and swiftness to the test, this month’s event challenged their eye for aesthetics and beauty. In early November, over 30 Penn students came to the Museum to attend Jewelry Making, the second Making Workshop of the series hosted by the Museum’s Academic Engagement Department.

The evening began with a presentation by Dr. Jane Hickman, Editor of the Museum’s Expedition magazine and jewelry scholar. Dr. Hickman spoke about the cultural significance of adornment and jewelry in the ancient world, highlighting examples from noteworthy archaeological sites such as Ur (in modern day Iraq), and Sitio Conte (Panama). Students were particularly captivated by her discussion of Queen Puabi’s luxurious and stunning ensemble made out of materials including gold, lapis lazuli, and numerous beaded strands. After the presentation, students had the opportunity to look closely at jewelry from the Museum’s Near Eastern and Egyptian collections.

Dr. Jane Hickman shows students jewelry from the Museum’s collections.
Dr. Jane Hickman shows students jewelry from the Museum’s collections.

Energized by inspiration and creativity (and, of course, pizza), students tried their hands at fashioning their own jewelry. Justine Frederick, a local Philadelphia Jewelry Designer, provided helpful guidance on the proper methods for creating beaded jewelry such as necklaces and bracelets. Students selected the materials of their choice from an assortment of beads and stones of many different shapes, sizes, materials, and colors.

Students gather around to select their jewelry-making materials.
Students gather around to select their jewelry-making materials.

Choosing the beads was perhaps the most enjoyable and personalized part of the process, but the actual construction was certainly not without trial and challenge. In particular, tying a small knot to start and finish the beaded strand proved to be quite a difficult task that required dexterous finger work, not to mention a great deal of patience.

Thanks to Justine’s assistance, each student was able to leave the workshop with at least one piece of jewelry inspired by the ancient world. It was fascinating to see how each student made unique and creative adornment, despite the fact that they chose from the same selection of materials!

Two beautifully finished products!
Two beautifully finished products!

Interested in learning more about archaeology in a hands-on environment? Keep an eye out for information on the next Making Workshop, taking place in early February of 2015.


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