CAAM takes over the Artifact Lab (for a day)

Update – this post contains blurred images of human remains. To read more about this decision, follow this link.

If you visit the Artifact Lab tomorrow (Tuesday August 22) during our open window sessions, you’ll be in for a treat. Instead of speaking with one of us (the conservators) you’ll have the opportunity to chat with two of our CAAM* teaching specialists, Dr. Kate Moore, Mainwaring Teaching Specialist for Zooarchaeology, and Dr. Marie-Claude Boileau, Teaching Specialist for Ceramics. We frequently consult and collaborate with them, but this will be their first time working behind the glass walls of the Artifact lab for our open window sessions.

Dr. Kate Moore and Dr. Marie-Claude Boileau in the Artifact Lab

They look ready for anything, don’t they? Don’t miss this unique opportunity (between 11:00-11:30am and 1:30-2:00pm) to ask them questions and talk to them about their work and research!

*CAAM, which stands for The Center for the Analysis of Archaeological Materials, is a joint endeavor between the Penn Museum and the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Arts and Sciences (SAS)

A lion relief from Nippur

Yesterday we received a new artifact in the lab: this terracotta lion relief from Nippur, Iraq.

B20014: the lion relief in fragments

Some may argue that this object could be a candidate for the Ugly Object of the Month club. Well, we like him, and one of our conservators pointed out that he looks a lot like one of these wonderful characters from William Steig’s Rotten Island.

Illustration from William Steig’s “Rotten Island”. Image courtesy of

This relief was excavated in the University of Pennsylvania’s Babylonian Expedition to Nippur in 1899. Like the Nippur slipper coffin currently on display in the Artifact Lab, it was previously repaired with metal staples and (at least one type of) adhesive, likely around the same time as the slipper coffin.

The staple-like wire tires used to repair the relief are visible in this view of one of the break edges.

More evidence of the old repairs on this fragment.

Getting this relief ready for exhibition in the Middle Eastern Galleries will not only require significant conservation treatment, but also a custom mount so that it can be displayed safely. We will provide updates as we work on this.