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Searching for Stories

From the Editor

By: Jane Hickman

I am often asked how I find stories for Expedition. Some are written by Museum curators and keepers as well as Penn professors and recent graduates. Others begin as lectures I attend that I believe would interest Expedition readers; the article on coins in the Fall 2018 issue began as a short lecture by a […]


The Transformation Continues

From the Director

By: Julian Siggers

Dear Friends, The start of this new year seems a good time to reflect on the exciting changes that the last brought, and those the next will witness. The opening of the Middle East Galleries last April brought our world-class collections and expertise into the light, showcasing them in vivid detail. Seeing our visitors’ response […]


At the Museum

Building Transformation The Middle East Galleries were the first of the Museum’s new signature galleries to open as part of the Building Transformation project. Next fall, we will open the new Africa Galleries and Mexico & Central America Gallery. Later, new Ancient Egypt and Nubia Galleries will follow. The closure of the Egypt (Sphinx) Gallery […]


Gallery Sneak Peak

Africa Galleries Some objects from the African continent were brought to the Penn Museum in the era of colonization. In the new Africa Galleries these objects’ stories will be explored in a meaningful social context befitting their cultural origins. See some of the collection below. Mexico & Central America Gallery Stories of the great city […]


Sacred Animal Cults in Egypt

Excavating the Catacombs of Anubis at Saqqara

By: Salima Ikram and Paul Nicholson

A recent excavation at Saqqara, Egypt, is exposing an ancient bustling economy associated with pilgrims and animal cults. Catacombs dedicated to offerings for the god Anubis have revealed huge numbers of mummified dogs, purchased to obtain the god’s favor. The study of these remains allows Egyptologists to interpret the impact religion had on local culture […]


Dogs and Cats and Birds, Oh My!

The Penn Museum's Egyptian Animal Mummies

By: Christina Griffith

While most visitors to the Museum are drawn to the mummified people from Ancient Egypt, humans are not alone in the afterlife: dozens of animal mummies are also part of the Musem’s Egyptian collection. We have amassed a variety of birds (ibis, falcon, and hawk), a shrew, small crocodiles, cats, bundles of lizards and snakes, […]


Brazil From Above

General Rondon and the Matto Grosso Expedition

By: Eric H. Hobson

In 1931, the Penn Museum’s Matto Grosso Expedition landed a serendipitous opportunity to court the celebrated Brazilian Army general who had mapped the country and led Teddy Roosevelt through the jungle, by offering him a lift in their state-of-the-art Siko rsky S-38 aircraft. A successful trip meant vital access for the expedition to sustain its […]


The Matto Grosso Expedition

Brazil, 1931

By: Alessandro Pezzati

Few expeditions of the Penn Museum have been as colorful as the Matto Grosso Expedition of 1931. Organized by Captain Vladimir Perfilieff, a Russian-born artist and world traveler, and Alexander (Sasha) Siemel, a Latvian who had worked for many years in Brazil as a guide and hunter, this was no ordinary academic venture. The stated […]


Survivors of San Lorenzo

Heritage and Change in a Florentine Market

By: Anne Schiller

As globalization propels people and commerce across international borders, landmark destinations like the San Lorenzo Market in Florence, Italy, are adapting. Changes to some important cultural traditions, however, can be controversial. Some enterprising vendors here are taking cooperative ownership of the transition from neighborhood market to globalized marketplace. It was a frigid afternoon in Florence’s […]


Statue of a Cat

Favorite Object

By: Jane Hickman

Cats in Ancient Egypt were kept as pets and as sacred animals dedicated to Bastet, the goddess of fertility and the home. Cats served a useful role in the house, as they were successful in keeping away mice and snakes. Depicted as a cat or cat-headed woman, Bastet was associated with the daughter of the […]