From the Director

By: F. G. R.

Originally Published in 1948

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Recent appointments to the University Museum staff, I believe, reflect a policy of calculated optimism. Most of the new men who will join us in July of this year expect to work in foreign countries which are storm centres of political conflict. Moreover, they are for the most part young men who have been engaged in war service and presumably will return to such service if the present threat of a third world war materializes. Neither the appointees nor the administration, I am sure, underestimate the difficulties of field research in such areas as Iraq, Turkey, North Africa or the Far East, and no one blithely assumes that we have returned to a peaceful world in which the study of man and his past can go forward with ease and assurance as it did prior to 1940.

Alabaster statuette of 'Ammiram 'Abijad Kar, standing, with triple necklace and stippled beard and moustache, incised eyes and eyebrows.
Alabaster Statuette (Sabaean) from South Arabia.
Museum Object Number: 30-47-2

Nevertheless, taking the optimistic viewpoint, the Board of Managers and the University Administration have accepted a program which permits us to reestablish a complete staff in all departments of the Museum and to prepare for research abroad. In doing so we are acting under the assumption that the only sane and healthy attitude in the face of world-wide uncertainty is to think and act in terms of peace rather than of impending war.

The African and Oceanian sections are to be placed under the direction of Dr. Carleton Coon, presently Professor of Anthropology at Harvard University and recently appointed as Curator of Ethnology in the University Museum. One of the leading anthropologists in the United States, he is peculiarly well fitted to join our staff in this capacity. As an inspiring teacher of undergraduate courses in anthropology at Harvard since 1934, he has led many younger men into the profession. He has also written text-books which are now widely used in this country, perhaps the best known of which is his “Races of Europe,” published in 1939. Most recent is his “Reader in General Anthropology,” published in 1948. But his primary interest is research in the history and culture of North Africa and the Near East, an area in which this Museum has conducted research for more than fifty years. His work in Africa began in 1931 with the study of the Rif tribes and was continued in Morocco, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia and the little-known kingdom of Yemen. He is not only a scholarly researcher but one of those rare scientists gifted with the ability to write freely and easily and in a manner which appeals to the general public. Dr. Coon is also author of two novels, “Flesh of the Wild Ox,” and “The Riffian.” We expect that he will direct a basic and long-range study of the culture and history of Northern Africa and that he will be able to make the University Museum the American centre for research in this area. At the moment he is planning an expedition to the kingdom of Yemen for the winter of 1948-1949.

During the war, Professor Coon was for a time a Special Assistant in the United States Department of State. Later, as a major in the U. S. Army, he saw active service in North Africa and was severely wounded in that campaign.

For some years now the University Museum has had no one actively in charge of the Chinese section. The Museum has perhaps the finest collection of early Chinese sculpture in this country, and since we expect the Far East to be one of the most productive fields of research into the history of ancient cultures , we have been in search of a young man who is already experienced and trained in this particular field. An important consideration has been a thorough knowledge of the Chinese language as well as knowledge of the art, history and culture of this ancient civilization. We are therefore very fortunate in being able to engage Schuyler Cammann who is now completing his doctorate at Johns Hopkins University under the direction of Mr. Owen Lattimore. Mr. Cammann was graduated from Yale in 1935, and thereafter he taught English and European History at Yale-in-China (Changsha, Hunan Province). During this period he travelled widely in China, Mongolia and Tibet, learned to speak and write Chinese and also was introduced to archaeological excavations in China. World War II found him studying Chinese and Japanese language, art, history and archaeology in the Harvard Graduate School. He was commissioned in the United States Navy in 1942 and during the war was sent to India, China and Mongolia. Most curious of his assignments as a Naval officer was as interpreter on a convoy to inner Mongolia. There he was able to spend several months with Mongolians, renewing his studies of Lamaist religion and art. For a young man the list of his publications, 1937- 1947, is indeed impressive. They range from “The Paradise of Bhaisajyaguru,” in the Gazette des Beaux Arts, 1944, to “A Short History of Yunnan,” 1945, and “China’s New Road to the Sea,” 1939. Mr. Cammann also has that ability to present his research into China’s past in a very readable and pleasing style. This ability was utilized in the preparation of two as yet unpublished books entitled “Beyond the Southern Clouds” and “Mongolian Interlude.”

The Museum’s excavation plans for the fall of 1948 include a reconnaissance of Turkey and the Eastern Mediterranean in search of the most desirable ancient Greek site for extensive excavation. This is part of a policy of the Museum to turn a substantial part of its resources into the Classical field of Mediterranean research. Dr. Daniel, Curator of the Mediterranean Section, is very pleased that the appointment of Dr. Rodney S. Young as the Associate Curator in that department has been arranged. Dr. Young is a graduate of St. Paul’s School and Princeton University. He has also obtained his Ph.D. in Classical Archaeology at Princeton. Since 1934 he has been a member of the staff at the excavations in the Athenian Agora and he is at present completing his work there. He will join Dr. Daniel for the survey in the Eastern Mediterranean this fall but will be unable to join us full time until July, 1949, when he will have completed the present excavations at the Agora. Dr. Young has a very distinguished war record. He was bombed and seriously injured on the Albanian front but after long hospitalization returned to active service in Greece with the Office of Strategic Services as Director. Thereafter he remained with UNRRA until he returned to the Agora excavations in 1946. Dr. Young’s publications are primarily concerned with Greek archaeology. They include “Graves From the Phaleron Cemetery,” “Pottery From a Seventh-century Well” and “Excavations on Mount Hymettos, 1939.” Dr. Young is considered an outstanding authority on the Archaic period in Greece. With Dr. Daniel and Dr. Young we look forward to a very active future in Classical Studies.

By mutual agreement with the various Departments in the University all of these professional people recently appointed to the Museum staff will teach classes in their special fields, thus strengthening the working relations between the Museum and the teaching branches of the University.


Cite This Article

R., F. G.. "From the Director." Museum Bulletin XIII, no. 3 (June, 1948): 3-6. Accessed July 25, 2024.

This digitized article is presented here as a historical reference and may not reflect the current views of the Penn Museum.

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