University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

The Stuff of Legend: Late 19th century Excavations at Nippur

Wednesday 06 March 2019
6:00PM - 7:00PM
Penn Museum

Museum Front

Richard Zettler, Ph.D., Associate Curator-in-Charge, Near East Section

Richard Zettler, Ph.D., Associate Curator-in-Charge, Near East Section British and French excavations in Mesopotamia—the land between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, what is today Iraq—began in the 1840s. Americans followed, but decades later. Excavations at the site of Nippur, early Mesopotamia’s religious center, on the southern floodplain of the two rivers, represent America’s first great archaeological adventure in the Middle East. The excavations, supported by prominent Philadelphians organized as the Babylonian Exploration Fund and affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania, led to the founding of the University’s Museum. In this lecture, Dr. Richard Zettler tells the saga of John P. Peters, Episcopal clergyman from New York City and the first Professor of Hebrew at the University of Pennsylvania, who lobbied determinedly to initiate excavations in the Land of the Bible; Edward White Clark, Philadelphia financier; and William Pepper, Jr., Penn’s Provost, who helped Peters realize his dream. The talk details the results of the excavations that extended from 1889-1900, introducing in the process the cast of characters that made the excavations reality, including photographer John Henry Haynes, architects Joseph E. Meyer, Clarence Fisher and H. Valentine Geer, and Assyriologist Herman V. Hilprecht, with whom Peters had a bitter “battle” in the years following the excavations.

Admission: $10 per lecture; Members, $5.
Space is limited; advance online reservations strongly suggested

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