Press Releases: Research
The Penn Museum Invites Visitors to Share in Recent "Re-Discovery"Rare 6,500-Year-Old Skeleton from Ur Excavation Site in IraqMoves to "In the Artifact Lab" Conservation Project Space Saturday, August 30 PHILADELPHIA, PA AUGUST 2014—Following an early August announcement of a "rediscovered" find in a Physical Anthropology storage room—a rare, fragile, but largely intact 6,500-year-old human skeleton from the famous Ur excavations in what is now Iraq—the Penn Museum will be moving the skeleton to a public space beginning Saturday, August 30.
Can Offer New Insights into Human History at Famous Ur Excavation Site in Iraq Philadelphia, PA Summer 2014—Sometimes the best archaeological discoveries aren't made in the field. Scientists at the Penn Museum in Philadelphia have re-discovered an important find in their own storage rooms, a complete human skeleton about 6,500 years old. The mystery skeleton had been stored in a coffin-like box for 85 years, all trace of its identifying documentation gone. This summer, a project to digitize old records from a world-famous excavation brought that documentation, and the history of the skeleton, back to light.
Penn Museum’s Penn Cultural Heritage Center, Smithsonian Institution Join ForcesTo Offer Emergency Workshop, Training, Support for Syrian Museum Collections JULY 2014—In addition to the high toll that Syria’s four-year-old civil war has had on its people and infrastructure, Syria’s cultural heritage has been and continues to be destroyed at an unprecedented rate. World Heritage sites like the historic city of Aleppo and Krak des Chevaliers, as well as medieval Christian cemeteries and numerous archaeological sites and museums, have been subjected to extensive raiding and looting. In an effort to help stem the loss of the region’s significant cultural heritage, Penn Museum’s Penn Cultural Heritage Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., in cooperation with the Syrian Interim Government’s Heritage Task Force, have come together to offer assistance for museum curators, heritage experts, and civilians working to protect cultural heritage inside Syria. A three-day training program, “Emergency Care for Syrian Museum Collections,” focusing on safeguarding high risk collections, was completed in late June; additional training programs are being planned, pending funding.
Discovery Provides Evidence of a Forgotten Egyptian Dynasty from 3,600 Years Ago PHILADELPHIA, PA, January 2014—Archaeologists working at the southern Egyptian site of Abydos have discovered the tomb of a previously unknown pharaoh: Woseribre Senebkay—and the first material proof of a forgotten Abydos Dynasty, ca. 1650–1600 BC. Working in cooperation with Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, a team from the Penn Museum, University of Pennsylvania, discovered king Senebkay's tomb close to a larger royal tomb, recently identified as belonging to a king Sobekhotep (probably Sobekhotep I, ca. 1780 BC) of the 13th Dynasty. The discovery of pharaoh Senebkay's tomb is the culmination of work that began during the summer of 2013 when the Penn Museum team, led by Dr. Josef Wegner, Egyptian Section Associate Curator of the Penn Museum, discovered a huge 60-ton royal sarcophagus chamber at South Abydos. The sarcophagus chamber, of red quartzite quarried and transported to Abydos from Gebel Ahmar (near modern Cairo), could be dated to the late Middle Kingdom, but its owner remained unidentified. Mysteriously, the sarcophagus had been extracted from its original tomb and reused in a later tomb—but the original royal owner remained unknown when the summer season ended.
New Biomolecular Archaeological Evidence for Nordic "Grog," Expansion of Wine Trade, Discovered in Ancient Scandinavia
Discovery Highlights Innovative and Complex Fermented Beverages of Northernmost Europe in the Bronze and Iron Ages Philadelphia, PA 2014—Winters in Scandinavia were long and cold in the Bronze and Iron Ages, then as now—but a blazing fire was not the only thing to keep people warm. From northwest Denmark, circa 1500–1300 BC, to the Swedish island of Gotland as late as the first century AD, Nordic peoples were imbibing an alcoholic "grog" or extreme hybrid beverage rich in local ingredients, including honey, bog cranberry, lingonberry, bog myrtle, yarrow, juniper, birch tree resin, and cereals including wheat, barley and/or rye—and sometimes, grape wine imported from southern or central Europe.Such is the conclusion based on new archaeochemical evidence derived from samples inside pottery and bronze drinking vessels and strainers from four sites in Demark and Sweden, combined with previous archaeobotanical data. The research ("A biomolecular archaeological approach to 'Nordic grog'") was recently published online in the Danish Journal of Archaeology (Dec. 23, 2013). Patrick E. McGovern, Scientific Director of the Biomolecular Archaeology Project at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology and author of Uncorking the Past: The Quest for Wine, Beer and Other Alcoholic Beverages (University of California Press, 2009) is the lead author on the paper, which was researched and written in collaboration with colleagues Gretchen R. Hall (University of Pennsylvania Museum) and Armen Mirzoian (Scientific Services Division, Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau [TTB], US Treasury), with key samples and archaeological evidence provided by Scandinavian colleagues.
Bone Tumor Identified in 120,000-Year-Old Rib of NeandertalFrom Famous Cave Excavation Site of Krapina in Central Europe PHILADELPHIA, PA, June 2013—The first-known definitive case of a benign bone tumor has been discovered in the rib of a young Neandertal who lived about 120,000 years ago in what is now present-day Croatia. The bone fragment, which comes from the famous archaeological cave site of Krapina, contains by far the earliest bone tumor ever identified in the archaeological record. Details of the tumor confirmation, announced by an international research team led by Penn Museum Associate Curator and Paleoanthropologist Janet Monge, is available in a research paper, "Fibrous dysplasia in a 120,000+ year old Neandertal from Krapina, Croatia," in the online scientific journal PLOS ONE.
New BIOMOLECULAR aRCHAEOLOGICAL EvidencePoints to the Beginnings of Viniculture in France* * *9,000 Year Old Ancient Near Eastern “Wine Culture,” Traveling Land and Sea,Reaches Southern Coastal France, Via Ancient Etruscans of Italy, in 6th-5th Century BCE PHILADELPHIA, PA June 3, 2013—France is renowned the world over as a leader in the crafts of viticulture and winemaking—but the beginnings of French viniculture have been largely unknown, until now.
Penn Museum Strengthens Partnership with TurkeyMuseum Agrees to Indefinite Term Loan of “Troy Gold” Jewelry
Confirmed: Anticancer Activity from Select Herbal Additives Found in Ancient Alcoholic BeveragesPenn Museum and Penn Medicine Research Collaboration Yields First Promising Evidence for Efficacy of Medicinal Compounds Once Employed by Our Ancestors PHILADELPHIA, PA July 2010—New biomolecular archaeological evidence backed up by increasingly sophisticated scientific testing techniques are uncovering medicinal remedies discovered, tested, and sometimes lost, throughout millennia of human history—herbs, tree resins, and other organic materials dispensed by ancient fermented beverages like wine and beer. Did those ancient "remedies" work-and if so, is there something we can learn—or re-learn—from our ancestors to help sick people today?
5,100 Year Old Chemical Evidence for Ancient Medicinal Remedies Discovered in Ancient Egyptian Wine Jars
Penn Museum and Penn Medicine Researchers Collaborate To Test Promising Medicinal Compounds Once Employed by Our Ancestors 14 APRIL 2009, PHILADELPHIA, PA—Hippocrates (ca. 460-370 BCE), the most famous of ancient physicians, once noted: "Wine is fit for man in a wonderful way provided that it is taken with good sense by the sick as well as the healthy." Now new archaeochemical evidence, backed up by increasingly sophisticated scientific testing techniques, are pointing to a long history of medicinal remedies tried, tested, and sometimes lost, throughout millennia of human history—herbs, tree resins, and other organic materials dispensed by ancient fermented beverages like wine and beer.
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