The following highlights from our collections allow easy browsing and discovery. When you’re ready to delve deeper, try our collections search function for in-depth browsing and research.
The sphinx, a lion with a human head, represents the power of the Egyptian king, both to protect his people and to conquer the enemies of Egypt.
A marble block over five feet in height that originally formed part of a monumental statue of the Emperor Domitian, who ruled between 81 and 96 AD (or CE)
It is the fourth largest crystal sphere in the world, the origins of the crystal sphere are a mystery.
This and other stelae from Piedras Negras played a key role in the decipherment of Maya history.
Two stone horse reliefs in the Asian collection are considered by many to be among the most important examples of Chinese sculpture outside of China.
This ornate headdress and pair of earrings were found with the body of Queen Puabi in the Royal Cemetery at Ur.
Sir Leonard Woolley dubbed this statuette the "ram caught in a thicket" as an allusion to the biblical story of Abraham sacrificing a ram.
The African collection at the Penn Museum is one of the largest collections in the country. The collection includes approximately 15,000 ethnographic and 5,000 archaeological objects and most of the collection was obtained between 1891 and 1937.
The collections of the American Section are the largest of the Penn Museum and number approximately 300,000 archaeological and ethnographic specimens.
The Asian section covers all of Asia and has a little over 25,000 objects. Most of our objects are kept in storage and used for research and classroom purposes; only about 1% are on display at any time.
The Penn Museum houses one of the largest collections of Egyptian and Nubian material in the United States, numbering in excess of 42,000 items.
The Penn Museum began acquiring prehistoric European archaeological collections in 1892.
The Collections of the Mediterranean Section of the Penn Museum comprise some 34,000 objects of Greek, Roman, Etruscan, Cypriot, and Bronze Age Aegean origins, as well as small numbers of artifacts from related culture areas.
The Penn Museum has a long history of field work in the Middle East, beginning with the late 19th century excavations at Nippur. Since that time the Museum has worked in nearly every country in the Middle East.
The Oceanian collections include over 22,000 objects from all the major island groups of the Pacific (Polynesia, Melanesia, and Micronesia), insular Southeast Asia, and Australia.
In 1901, Hiram M. Hiller Jr. traveled to the northernmost island of Japan, Hokkaido, on behalf of the Penn Museum. The expedition produced over 250 artifacts as well as three journals of notes and numerous lantern slides, providing the Penn Museum with one of the best-documented Ainu collections in the US. Hiller also collected a small sample of pottery from the ancient Jomon culture which dates as far as back 12,000 BCE, some of the oldest known in the world.
Located on the west bank of the Nile near Thebes, the Egyptian site of Dra Abu el-Naga is an important non-royal cemetery or necropolis. From 1921 to 1923, Clarence Fisher excavated at the site, focusing on the tombs of New Kingdom officials and the mortuary complex of the 18th Dynasty King Amenhotep I and his wife Nefertari (1525-1504 BCE).
Located in southern Iraq, Ur was one of the most famous archaeological excavations during the early 20th century. The work at Ur brought the magic of archaeology to life, particularly by tying the discoveries into familiar biblical stories. Between 1922 and 1934, the Joint Expedition of the British Museum and the Penn Museum uncovered some of the most well-known and celebrated art from ancient Mesopotamia.
The island of Borneo sits off the coast of Southeast Asia and is divided among the countries of Malaysia, Indonesia, and tiny Brunei. Between 1896 and 1898, several collecting expeditions to Borneo were undertaken. They spent six months in Sarawak, traveling upriver to Dayak longhouses, they undertook an expedition to Dutch West Borneo, spending several months on the Kapuas River, and then they visited the Mahakam River in Dutch East Borneo.
In the early 20th century, the Conte family noticed that the shifting course of the Rio Grande de Coclé was exposing ancient burials on the river’s edge. In 1940, the Penn Museum excavated Sitio Conte (Conte Site) and found archaeological evidence of a large cemetery including an impressive burial of a chief that had been buried with lots of gold and numerous other individuals.
The island of Cyprus is located in the eastern Mediterranean Sea to the south of Turkey and west of Syria, Lebanon, and Israel. During the 20th century, the Penn Museum excavated at a number of locations in Cyprus. The site of Kourion resulted in some 2,000 objects coming to the Museum as a result of a division of finds with the Cyprus Department of Antiquities.