University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Welcome to the Penn Museum blog. First launched in January 2009, the Museum blog now has over 800 posts covering a range of topics in the categories of Museum, Collection, Exhibitions, Research, and By Location. Here you’ll hear directly from our staff and Penn students about their work, research, experiences, and discoveries. To explore the Museum's other digital content, visit The Digital Penn Museum.


Greenland Inuit Doll

By: Margaret Bruchac

The Lady in Furs Object Analysis and Report for Anthropology of Museums by Monica Fenton This Inuit (Eskimo) doll, accessioned in 1937 (37-14-7), is one of seventeen objects from Greenland donated by Samuel C. Ingraham. The collection, consisting mostly of footwear, also includes a model kayak with a human figurine and miniature harpoon. The doll came from […]

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Ladies in Fur, Traveling through Time

By: Margaret Bruchac

The Penn Museum holds a variety of dolls from Arctic environs, including those collected by William Van Valin, George Byron Gordon, Captain George Comer, and the Peary Relief Expedition. Most of the items classified as “dolls” are small wooden figures; only a few represent realistic renditions of Arctic clothing. This Inuit (Eskimo) doll from Greenland (object […]

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Films of Sitio Conte as a primary source material

By: Kate Pourshariati

The Beneath the Surface exhibit has positioned the film records of the expedition to Sitio Conte prominently within the exhibit. We asked Clark Erickson, the lead curator of the exhibit, what the films mean to him as primary source materials in the history of archaeology, and especially of this site. The video advances my agenda […]

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Sitio Conte in Real Time: February 5, 1940

By: Lee Roueche

Mon. Feb 5. Warm, happy, rather clear. 9 diggers & foreman. Lothrop & I troweled on large area of broken pottery & [?] in w[est]. end of trench. Merrill surveying. Photo’d skeleton & cache in Tr I & [?] took up broken broken pottery. Corning washing & selecting sherds. John [?] [?] rolls of canvas […]

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Sitio Conte in Real Time: February 3, 1940

By: Lee Roueche

-Robert Merrill, Field Notes, pg. 1, February 3, 1940 Today marks Robert Merrill’s first day on the job at Sitio Conte.  His meticulous field notebook contains–in exquisite detail–his notes, drawings, and photographs of the excavations. It is an invaluable tool for learning about the Cocle people and the burials at Sitio Conte. A retired civil engineer, Merrill worked with […]

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Sitio Conte in Real Time: January 22, 1940

By: Lee Roueche

5 lbs onions $.30 10 tins Maxwell’s coffee 1# $6.00 6 paq. Salada tea $1.50 1 bag Flour Gold Medal 98# $3.25 25 lbs Chinese rice $1.50 Receipt from Compañia Kito Chen, S.A., January 22, 1940 On this day 75 years ago, J. Alden Mason went grocery shopping. So what do you feed a small […]

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Sitio Conte in Real Time: January 12, 1940: “Plastico”

By: Eric Schnittke

A part of every expedition, the crew for Sitio Conte began to collect supplies. Camps need to be stocked with all sorts of goods, from food and clothing to medical supplies and scientific materials. In collecting supplies, John Corning contacted the Technical Supply Company in Palo Alto, California in regards to Plastico Moulage materials.Plastico Moulage […]

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Sitio Conte in Real Time: January 9, 1940

By: Lee Roueche

“GOVERNMENT AUTHORIZES” -Schaeffer to Mason, January 9, 1940 On January 9th, Mason received this cable granting the Penn Museum permission for archaeological excavations in Panama at the site of Sitio Conte. The Museum’s agent in Panama, Charles Schaeffer sent a more detailed letter that same day stating that: “the Secretary of Public Instruction, this morning, assured […]

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Sitio Conte in Real Time: January 8, 1940

By: Eric Schnittke

Everything is unsettled and hectic. The expedition has been arranged so suddenly.  – Mason to Merrill, January 8, 1940 The chaotic nature of planning a last minute archaeological expedition was dragging upon Mason, as his letter of the 8th of January to Bob Merrill indicates. In it, he officially hires Merrill as draftsman for the expedition, saying: […]

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Sitio Conte in Real Time: January 5, 1940

By: Lee Roueche

“In the meantime we are making all arrangements so that the moment that information arrives we can start the wheel going.” -Mason to Lothrop, January 5, 1940 As the dust from the holidays settled, Mason returned to work firing off correspondence about everything the team would need down in Panama. Luckily back in December, Samuel K. Lothrop […]

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