University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Watch Actor and Comedian, CJ Jones, as he takes you on a tour of Penn Museum's Galleries. Learn about some of the most important objects on display at the Museum.

Number of Videos: 26

The Tang Horses

Emperor Taizong's Horses, China, Zhaoling, Shaanxi province, Tang Period (circa 636-649 AD), Stone, H. 169, Penn Museum Object C395.

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Stela 14 from Guatemala (758 CE)

Stela 14, Piedras Negras, Central Lowlands, Guatemala; Classic Maya, 758 CE, (Limestone; Loan from the Government of Guatemala).

Time: 00:01:36
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The Sphinx

Sphinx, Memphis (Palace of Merenptah), Dynasty 19, Reigns of Ramses II-Merenptah (1279-1204 BCE), Red Granite. Penn Museum Object E12326.

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The Shingon Altar

The Shingon altar is composed of pieces from a larger Japanese Temple put together by Maxwell Sommerville in 1899.

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The Chinese Rotunda is the majestic setting of the Museum's Chinese collection. Ninety feet in diameter and soaring ninety feet high, the rotunda is one of the largest unsupported masonry domes in the United States, housing one of the finest collections of monumental Chinese art in the country.

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The Romans traced their mythical beginnings to the Trojan War and to Romulus, who supposedly founded the city of Rome in 753 BCE. It was the genius of the Romans to transform Greek ideals and the ways of their Etruscan forerunners into their own civilized and highly organized way of life. During the 4th and 3rd centuries BCE they absorbed many parts of Italy, including the Etruscan homeland. In the 3rd and 2nd century BCE they captured the Carthaginian controlled areas of North Africa, Sardinia, western Sicily and Spain, the Greek colonies of southern Italy and Sicily, the Greek homeland and the Hellenistic kingdoms. Under the reign of Trajan (98-117 CE), the Roman Empire reached its greatest extent. Roman norms embraced the empire, incorporating peoples of various races, language groups, and cultural backgrounds.

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Colossal Head of Ramses II from Abydos Egypt (1290-1224 BCE)

Head of a Colossal Statue of Ramses II, Abydos, Dynasty 19, Reign of Ramses II (1290-1224 BCE), Limestone (restored), Penn Museum Object 69-29-1. Depicted here is the bust one of a series of colossal figures that originally decorated the front of a row of rectangular pillars in the courtyard of a small temple at Abydos. The king is depicted mummiform in the style of the god Osiris. The king holds the symbols of kingship, the crook and flail, in his now missing hands. Since the figure was intended to tower over any human below, the eyes look down. Much of the original color remains.

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Ram Caught in a Thicket from Ur

This goat standing upright against a flowering plant and its counterpart in the British Museum are two of the most famous objects from the Royal Cemetery of Ur. They have frequently been referred to as the Ram Caught in a Thicket because the biblical image (Gen. 22:13) so aptly fits the sculptures. Ram Caught in a Thicket, Gold, silver, lapis lazuli, copper, shell, red limestone, and bitumen, H. 42.6 cm. Penn Museum Object 30-12-702.

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The Puteoli Marble Block (102 CE)

Dominating the new Roman World gallery is an internationally famous military relief, once part of a commemorative arch for the emperor Trajan, erected in 102 CE at ancient Puteoli near Naples. This monumental sculpture is also a prime example of Roman politics combined with Roman practicality -- the opposite side of the marble block contains an earlier inscription honoring the emperor Domitian. Visitors can see how the inscription was painstakingly, but incompletely, chiseled off after Domitian's assassination and official disgrace by the Roman Senate in 96 CE.

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Egyptian Mummies

This popular Museum exhibition features human and animal mummies, tomb artifacts, and objects and materials used in the mummification process. It offers an in-depth look at the ancient Egyptian beliefs in the afterlife, and the complex funerary practices they developed over thousands of years. The exhibition also looks at what modern-day scientists, through x-ray, autopsy and other techniques, have learned about ancient Egyptian culture.

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The Bull-headed Lyre from Ur

Lyre with Bearded Bull's Head and Inlaid Panel, Royal Cemetery, Ur, Iraq, Early Dynastic III, 2550-2450 BCE, Wood, lapis lazuli, gold, silver, shell, bitumen, H. 35.6 cm. Penn Museum Object B17694.

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The Islamic Near East

The objects in this gallery come from the central lands of the Islamic world: Iraq, Iran, Syria, Turkey and Egypt. These are the very regions where the more ancient cultures of Sumer and Assyria, of Pharaonic Egypt, of Neolithic and Bronze Age Iran, and of Asia Minor were discovered.

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Iraq's Ancient Past

In 1922—the same year that Howard Carter shocked the world with his discovery of Tutankhamen's tomb in Egypt—a little-known British archaeologist, Charles Leonard Woolley, began excavations near the town of Nasiriyah at the site of Ur—one of ancient Mesopotamia's most important cities. His most remarkable discovery was a massive cemetery with thousands of burials, including a small number of rich tombs belonging to the kings and queens of Ur from around 2500 BCE. The Royal Cemetery of Ur and its spectacular finds still fascinate and challenge us today. In this exhibition, you will encounter one of the top ten archaeological discoveries of all time and explore early Mesopotamia through the lens of research carried out in the decades following Woolley's incredible discovery.

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Model of a Roman House

The centerpiece of the Rome Gallery is a 4 ft. x 2 ft. model of a Roman house of the type excavated at Pompeii and Herculaneum. Visitors can learn about Vitruvius, a famous Roman architect, and his variations in housing design.

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The Navajo Hooghan

In the American Southwest Exhibition, visitors can stand inside a Navajo Hooghan. The "hooghan" (house) framework encloses objects which relate to the different kinds of knowledge the Navajo believe reside in mountains in the four sacred directions.

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The Greeks were the pre-eminent merchants of the Mediterranean world. Even in the Bronze Age their commercial contacts reached to Egypt and the Near East. During the height of Greek civilization their city-states dominated the economy of the entire Mediterranean region. The Greeks were also energetic colonizers. From as early as the 8th century BCE Greek emigrants founded new settlements in Italy, North Africa, southern France, Asia Minor, and the Black Sea region. Alexander the Great (d. 323 BCE) conquered the east as far as India. His successors brought about an unparalleled expansion of Greek civilization in which Greek language and culture became the koine, the most common and acceptable way of life.

Time: 00:01:51
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Greek Grave Stela

The design of this Greek grave relief is common for the Classical period of the 5th and 4th centuries BCE. Find out who the people are carved on this grave marker.

Time: 00:01:50
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Etruscan Italy

The Etruscans dominated the central part of the Italic peninsula during the late 8th through the 6th centuries BCE. Their economy depended largely on trade, and their commercial contacts favored the Greek colonies in Southern Italy and Sicily. They imported Greek pottery in great quantity, and, in fact, much of the Greek pottery preserved to us from antiquity was found in Etruscan tombs. Etruscans were influential in transforming Rome into an urban center in the 6th century BCE and Roman tradition identifies a family of Etruscans, the Tarquins, as the last dynastic rulers of Rome. Although their civilization was eventually eclipsed by Roman rule, their legacy lived on in Roman customs and culture.

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Egyptian Door Socket

This door socket is from Hierakonpolis in southern Egypt, an important place because its rulers became some of the first pharaohs around 3000 BCE. This door socket would have been part of a long row of bound enemies who formed a door threshold.

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Closing Credits

We hope you enjoyed the tour. Please come and visit us in person in Philadelphia! This ASL video tour was made in loving memory of Jason Stefaniuk.

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Sarcophagus from Canaan (ca. 1250-1150 BCE)

At Beth Shean, fragments of fifty clay sarcophagi were found in reused Early Bronze Age tombs. These sarcophagi date from the last phase of the Egyptian empire in Canaan (ca. 1250-1150 BCE). The lids of these sarcophagi depict faces and upper torsos.

Time: 00:01:19
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Egyptian Mummy of a Child (ca. 1CE)

This is an example of a mummy of a young boy from the Roman period in Egypt about 2,000 years ago. We are uncertain how he died. A current project here at the Penn Museum involves the CAT-scanning of all of our mummies at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in order to retrieve information without having to unwrap the body.

Time: 00:00:45
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Canaan and Israel

The Penn Museum holds nearly 25,000 artifacts from excavations in the Levant, a geographical area that encompasses modern Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, Jordan and Lebanon, as well as adjacent parts of Syria. Penn Museum's holdings represent the largest collection of artifacts from the region in the United States and the Western Hemisphere.

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Buddhist Asia

The exhibit Buddhism: History and Diversity of a Great Tradition, currently on display in the Museum's Pepper Hall, traces Buddhism from its origins in India through its development along ancient land and sea routes leading into central Asia, and flowing through Southeast Asia, Tibet, China, and Japan. Consisting of text panels, photographs, and a rich display of more than 130 artifacts culled from the Museum's own collection, the exhibition illustrates Buddhism's interaction and exchange with cultures throughout Asia highlighting the different expressions of faith that Buddhism inherited along its journey to becoming one of the world's largest religions.

Time: 00:02:57
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Statue of Avalokitesvara from 18th Century Tibet

Statue of Avalokitesvara, Tibet, 18th Century, Brass, H. 53 cm. Penn Museum Object 85-28-5.

Time: 00:01:37
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Attic Black Amphora from ca. 540-530 BCE

One of the most important objects in the gallery is the large amphora of c. 540-530 BCE decorated with scenes from the Trojan War. Found in a tomb in Orvieto, Italy, it was painted by the well-known Athenian artist Exekias.

Time: 00:01:48
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