University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Athropology

The Trace of a Child

handprint in cement
From the Editor

By: Jane Hickman

When I was two years old, my father gently pressed my hand into cement to create a record of my childhood that I still have today. Later he told me that children grow up so quickly that he wanted a tangible reminder of those early years, when the world was still a great wonder to […]


An Active Research Museum

Map of excavation sites
From the Director

By: Julian Siggers

As an active research museum, the Penn Museum’s knowledge of the human story is ever-evolving. Continued exploration of sites around the globe, and ever deeper research on our own collections, is at the heart of our mission. We are thrilled this year to support 18 research projects, described briefly below, through the Director’s Field Fund. […]


City of the Moon

photo of object
New Excavations at Ur

By: William B. Hafford

The ancient city of Ur was dedicated to the Sumerian moon god—today it resembles a lunar landscape. From 1922 to 1934 the Penn Museum and the British Museum jointly excavated portions of the site, but the massive mound containing 5,000 years of history has lain largely untouched for the last 80 years. In 2015, a […]


Ancient Lineages

photo of village
Reconstructing the Genetic History of Svaneti, Northwest Georgia

By: Aram Yardumian and Theodore G. Schurr and Ramaz Shengelia and Davit Chitanava and Shorena Laliashvili and Lia Bitadze and Irma Laliashvili

At the dawn of the common era, the Greek historian and geographer Strabo composed brief descriptions of the numerous tribes living and trading at Eastern Black Sea ports for his encyclopedic work Geographica. Among them, he wrote, “Are the Soanes, who are…superior…in power…and hold possession of the heights of the caucasus above Dioscurias. The mountainous […]


Captain Cook’s Barkcloth Books

photos of watercolor
A Tale of Three 18th-Century Sample Books

By: Billie Lythberg

In the Summer of 1919, George Byron Gordon, the Director of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, discovered a curious book in London. Small and unassuming, its neatly bound covers contained eight pages of printed catalogue followed by 43 specimens of 18th-century Polynesian barkcloth, richly colored and textured. With funds from the […]


John Alden Mason

photo of Mason
Life of a Renaissance Anthropologist

By: David A. Schwartz

This is the story of Dr. John Alden Mason (1885–1967), one of the last of the great generalist anthropologists of the 20th century. We know him at the Penn Museum for his work in anthropological linguistics in Mexico, and as an archaeologist of the Americas who excavated at Piedras Negras in Guatemala and Sitio Conte […]


Report from the Field – In the Mountains, between Empires

photo of people on hill
Notes From the Lerik in Antiquity Archaeological Project

By: Susannah Fishman and Jeyhun Eminli and Lara Fabian and Emil Iskenderov

The first season of the collaborative Azerbaijani-American Lerik in Antiquity Archaeological Project (LAAP), co-directed by Ph.D. student Lara Fabian (Penn AAMW), recent graduate Dr. Susannah Fishman (Penn Anthropology), and Dr. Jeyhun Eminli (Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences), was funded by the Kolb Foundation, and supported by the Institute of Archaeology […]


In the Labs – Identifying Ancient Cooking Practices and Ingredients

students sitting around a table
A New Database for Archaeobotany

By: Chantel White, Ph.D.

Over the past academic year, a new research project has begun in the Center for the Analysis of Archaeological Materials (CAAM) that focuses on a subfield of archaeology known as archaeobotany, the study of ancient plant remains recovered from archaeological sites. While archaeobotanical research involves a significant amount of time at the microscope identifying tiny […]


Global Classroom

archival photo of people in Harrison auditorium
News from Learning Programs

Bringing the Museum into Neighborhoods The Free Library of Philadelphia has several branches near schools that participate in Unpacking the Past. A natural way to continue service to these students and their families is to provide fun learning opportunities in these community spaces. The Penn Museum brings replica objects to public libraries and provides hands-on […]


Meet our Members – Peter and Pamela Freyd

Member News

Drs. Peter and Pamela Freyd have been academics, educators, and supporters of cultural institutions in Philadelphia for more than 50 years. Peter: When people ask me, “Are you retired?” I usually say: “Well, they’re not paying me.” That’s a bit different from retirement. I’ve been a professor for over 50 years and I’m still doing […]