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Looking to the Stars, Listening to the Earth

A Song Dynasty Tomb

Upper Level

Included with Museum Admission

Student curators examining an artifact.

What does the archaeological evidence tell us about life and death in Song Dynasty China?

This student-curated exhibition explores the contents of a 12th-century tomb from the Jiangxi region of China and offers a glimpse into elaborate funeral practices from long ago. Visitors will be able to see ways that burial dates, tomb locations, and the arrangement of ceramic figurines during a funeral were all informed by patterns observed in the heavens and earth. Careful attention to these patterns ensured the deceased would be laid in a secure resting place in the cosmos and that benefits would come to their living descendants.

Drawing on contemporary texts and modern laboratory techniques, the exhibit delves into the meaning and making of tomb ceramics and reveals the function of complex fengshui tools. Learn more in this special opportunity to see selections from one of the largest Song Dynasty tomb assemblages in the United States.

What's On View

The Making of an Exhibition

Read more about the students curators’ year-long process of developing the exhibition at the Penn Museum Voices blog.

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Meet the Student Curators

Each year, the Penn Museum’s student exhibition program selects three undergraduate interns to collaborate with staff, expand their research with faculty, and create an accessible experience for Museum visitors, all while strengthening their skill sets for future careers.

Mackenzie McKilip. Jasmine Wang. Sarah Hinkel.

Mackenzie McKillip is a senior from Wartrace, Tennessee, majoring in Anthropology, with minors in Archaeological Science and Environmental Studies. She plans to work in museums, heritage, and education. As a visual and tactile learner, she thinks that engaging with objects is a crucial part of understanding the past. She hopes that visitors examining artifacts in this exhibit will be able to learn more than they would from a history textbook.

Jasmine Wang is a third-year student currently pursuing studies in Fine Arts, Psychology, and Digital Humanities at Penn. Her passion lies in bridging the realms of art, design, and technology to support humanities practices. She enjoys all kinds of creative endeavors. In this exhibit, she is particularly excited about displaying the “Looking Up” figurine, which illustrates the way people understood the world and how their daily lives were shaped in Song China.

Sarah Hinkel is a junior from Maytown, Pennsylvania, double majoring in Ancient History and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. She is also minoring in Archaeological Science and has experience conducting fieldwork. Interested in the ways historians and archaeologists tell stories about the past, she hopes to gain experience crafting narratives in different mediums by curating exhibits and creating documentaries.