University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

The Penn Museum has many examples of florals in its collection.  In the literal sense, archaeobotanical samples collected at archaeological sites around the globe give us clues about the environments in which past societies lived and how humans interacted with plant life throughout history.  In the figurative sense, depictions of flowers adorn the surfaces of material culture in our collection from all regions of the world, and in some cases, the object itself takes on the form of a flower.  Floral imagery on cultural material reveals the importance that flowering plants have played in our daily lives, including their use as medicinal sources, food sources, natural dyes, pleasant aromas, and for which they are most commonly known: creating romantic gestures. 

While your flowers may not yet be in bloom, take a moment to peek into our garden and you will find that flowers grow everywhere throughout our collections.  From objects that decorate the spaces we inhabit—architecture, pottery, table ware, and wall hangings—to the items we use to decorate our own bodies—clothing, jewelry, bags, and shoes—flowers can be found blooming across painted surfaces, woven into textiles, and molded into bouquets.  They symbolize rebirth and renewal, as well as remind us both of the fragility and beauty of life.  Below is a sampling of floral imagery in our collection; we invite you to view how flowers have colored the lives of people throughout history, and afterward, to take the time to think about how flowers are incorporated into your own life—whether they are for relaxing, healing, smelling, eating, romancing, coloring, decorating, or any other way that we as humans have thought to use them.


1 - 30 of 81 Records

Mantle

45-15-271

45-15-271

Museum Object

Shoulder Pouch

45-15-807

45-15-807

Museum Object

Pouch

41-24-18

41-24-18

Museum Object



Votive Bowl

38-23-123

38-23-123

Museum Object

Tray

NA8779

NA8779

Museum Object

Votive Bowl

38-23-122

38-23-122

Museum Object



Pouch

NA8380A

NA8380A

Museum Object

Collar

37-23-5

37-23-5

Museum Object

Leggings

NA5389

NA5389

Museum Object



Tray

97-84-176

97-84-176

Museum Object

Plate

7532

7532

Museum Object

Mandarin Square

52-23-4

52-23-4

Museum Object



Plate

5827

5827

Museum Object

Informal Robe

43-12-161

43-12-161

Museum Object

Plate

66-29-1

66-29-1

Museum Object



Tumbler

B17072C

B17072C

Museum Object

This object is on display

Ornament

31-17-74

31-17-74

Museum Object

This object is on display

Tile

29-93-46

29-93-46

Museum Object



Kylix

MS3983

MS3983

Museum Object

Cup

MS556

MS556

Museum Object

Baobab Nut

31-33-174

31-33-174

Museum Object



Amulet

92-2-97

92-2-97

Museum Object

Pavement

E15721

E15721

Museum Object

Pavement

E15726

E15726

Museum Object



Pavement

E15722

E15722

Museum Object

Textile

E634A

E634A

Museum Object

Inlay

E11731

E11731

Museum Object

This object is on display


Inlay

E3924F

E3924F

Museum Object

Rosette

E3928E

E3928E

Museum Object

Rosette

E3928D

E3928D

Museum Object



1 - 30 of 81 Records
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