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.


Bagobo Shield [Object of the Day #123]

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By: admin

A dress shield, carried at festivals by Bagobo men of southern Mindanao, in the Philippines.  At the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis in 1904 men from the Bagobo village staged daily “shield dances” in which they carried shields like this one.  Among the visitors to the fair who saw the dances were two sisters […]

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Food Dish [Object of the Day #121]

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By: admin

Bowls of this unique, elegant form come from the islands of Wuvulu and Aua, in the Bismarck Archipelago (Papua New Guinea). The culture of these two islands is actually Micronesian rather than Melanesian, and the minimalist feel of these bowls is typical of the Micronesian aesthetic.  Although an early visitor reported seeing them used to […]

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Lime Container [Object of the Day #120]

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By: admin

  Small wooden container used to carry powdered lime. In many parts of the world lime, chopped areca nut and betel leaf are combined and formed into a quid which is sucked and chewed as a mild stimulant.  The practice is called betel chewing. This lime container, with a lid carved in the form of […]

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Ceremonial Object [Object of the Day #115]

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By: admin

Pearl shell disc with incised geometric patterns filled with red ochre. Such discs were worn by Australian Aboriginal men, suspended from belts, as pubic ornaments.  They were also highly valued objects of exchange, traded hundreds of miles into the interior of Australia from the northwest coast, where they were made.  The incised patterns are typical […]

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Forehead Ornament [Object of the Day #111]

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By: admin

Chief’s forehead ornament from the Marquesas Islands, consisting of a headband of woven coconut fiber, with a large disk of pearl shell overlaid with a carved sheet of sea turtle shell.  The openwork carving includes six human faces and, at the top, two curved elements resembling the points of the large ceremonial fishhooks used to […]

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Women’s Blouse [Object of the Day #104]

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By: admin

This colorful blouse is part of a traditional women’s costume in the province of Bukidnon in  northern Mindanao (Philippine Islands).  It is made up of strips of dark blue and red cotton cloth, with appliqued and embroidered zigzag and chain designs in red, blue and white. It slips over the head, and is very short, […]

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Helmet Mask [Object of the Day #101]

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By: admin

This type of helmet mask (tatanua) is worn by male dancers in large, multi-village funerary celebrations in central and northern New Ireland (Papua New Guinea).  It features a large, arching crest of reddish brown plant fiber and sides decorated with red and blue trade cloth and feathers.  The wood face, with straight open mouth and […]

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Sash [Object of the Day #85]

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By: admin

  This sash is created from very fine banana fiber. It’s dyed in natural colors, red, and blue. The sash is decorated with alternating bands of intricate geometric designs and plain red strips. This style is characteristic of the island of Pohnpei. It would have been woven by women and worn as a part of […]

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Javanese Puppet [Object of the Day #80]

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By: Alyssa Kaminski

  Today’s object is a Javanese puppet made in the early 20th century. It is a male figure wearing a black, gold, and red fez cap. His red hair is tied up into a bun at the back of his neck with a black and white striped band. The puppet is clothed in a tight […]

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Magic in the Ancient World

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