University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Thanks to cellulose and tourists.

By: Alison Miner

It’s great when you find something that is beautiful and also conveys a great amount of information.
This is not one of those circumstances.
Pure 19th-century eye candy.

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Stela! Steeeeeeeela! (Can’t you hear me yella?)

By: Maureen Callahan

You’re puttin’ me through Hella! Well, okay, Maya stelae are possibly less immediately dramatic than either Tennessee Williams or the Simpsons. And sure, it’s a different word with a different pronunciation. But the stone monuments in our Meso-American gallery might be my favorite part of walking into the archives in the morning. There’s something about […]

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Summer Vacation

By: Maureen Callahan

Ah, our lantern slide collection. A cornucopia of preservation problems and cataloging head-scratchers. Here’s a sunny image for a rainy day here in Philadelphia: Sometimes working in the archives is like being a contestant on “What in the World?” We’re not experts in any one area, and it’s difficult to figure out what’s happening in […]

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Ta-DA!

By: Maureen Callahan

Guess what! The Penn Museum website has re-launched! Be sure to visit the new archives pages for information about visiting, our collections and our work.

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How to protect your home and family, the Sassanian way.

By: Alison Miner

Ok, I’ll be honest. At first I just chose this image of an Aramaic incantation bowl as the fun friday image of the week because: “look! cute child-like monster drawings!”. But the more I learn about this esoteric corner of the archaeological world, the more relevant these little bowls become. For several hundred years between […]

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Turtle Heist

By: Maureen Callahan

We’ve all been told that anthropologists have no right to intervene in the lives of their subjects — does it make a difference if their subjects are small, green, and promise not to tattle? Frank Goldsmith Speck, near the end of his career at Penn, befriended John Witthoft, a young colleague of his. The two […]

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The Tactile Experience

By: Alessandro Pezzati

I previously wrote about the Penn Museum’s close calls with visitors outraged because forbidden to paw at the granite sphinx.  But when is it okay for a visitor to handle the artifacts?  Exceptions are made, not only when you are famous, but sometimes because you are blind, and more rarely, when you are famous and […]

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If this doesn’t help you get through Wednesday, there’s not much more that I can do.

By: Maureen Callahan

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Do the museum guards really mistreat visitors?

By: Alessandro Pezzati

It is an eternal conundrum of museums to balance the contradictory values of preservation and access.  On the one hand, museums must protect these countless pieces of the world forever, but on the other, they’re not allowed to do it the best way, which is to put everything underground in a salt mine beneath a […]

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Desert Falconer

By: Maureen Callahan

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