The Penn Museum’s curators, staff, and consulting scholars conduct research around the world. Read on for a small sampling of their work from this past year.
Robert L. Schuyler, Ph.D., Associate Curator-in-Charge, Historical Archaeology Section
The Silver Reef Project—excavation of a 19th-century mining ghost town— has been active over the last 30 years. Surface collecting and the excavation of three sites during the 1980s were followed by 20 years of archival research and artifact analysis between 1990 and 2010. During the summers of 2013 and 2014, Dr. Schuyler traveled to Southwest Utah to return 107 boxes of analyzed surface materials and to work on a public program with the Silver Reef Foundation. Public lectures and well-attended guided tours were conducted in May during the last two summers through the Silver Reef Museum. Back at Penn, from June to August 2014, archival sources on saloons were investigated. In the photo above, Schuyler examines a round-bottomed “torpedo” bottle from Belfast-Dublin, an object commonly found during the surface survey and excavations at the site.
Notheastern United States & Canada
Margaret M. Bruchac, Ph.D., Consulting Scholar, American Section
Dr. Margaret Bruchac’s new project— On the Wampum Trail—combines archival research, material analysis, ethnography, and object cartography to track collectors, restore object histories, and facilitate repatriation of tribal heritage. This past summer, she followed Frank Speck’s tracks into the field to chart the distribution of wampum to northeastern U.S. and Canadian museums during the salvage anthropology era. Dr. Bruchac examined more than 50 wampum belts and collars (from the collections of 13 museums and 5 tribal nations), recovering new insights into modes of wampum construction, semiotics, and display that reflect the evolving relations among Indigenous people and museums. Above, she examines a wampum belt purchased by Frank Speck in 1913 that was recently repatriated (with the help of her research) to the Kanehsatake Mohawk nation. See: http://wampumtrail.wordpress.com/
C. Brian Rose, Ph.D., Peter C. Ferry Curator-in-Charge, Mediterranean Section
Fieldwork at Gordion in central Turkey has been ongoing since 1950, and during the 2014 season the focus was on both architectural conservation and excavation. Under the direction of Dr. C. Brian Rose (shown on the left, with Williams Director Julian Siggers), the restoration of the Early Phrygian (9th century BCE) citadel gate was inaugurated, while the staff continued with the conservation of the Early Phrygian industrial quarter (the Terrace Buildings) and the large pebble mosaic from one of the elite houses or megarons (also of 9th century BCE date). Excavation focused on the south side of the citadel mound, where the team discovered new evidence for the monumental stone fortifications that protected the citadel between the 9th and the 4th centuries BCE, including traces of an enormous fort at the western end of the residential district.
Janet Monge, Ph.D., Associate Curator-in-Charge and Keeper, Physical Anthropology Section
Ancient towns of the Swahili people dot the East African coastline of Kenya. Since 1997, these towns have undergone archaeological excavation by a joint team composed of U.S. and Kenyan researchers. Dr. Janet Monge— photographed here in front of Swahili town wall ruins from the Lamu Archipelago, Kenya—is working on the excavation of the tombs and the study of the skeletal materials derived from these graves. This western limit of the Indian Ocean rim has been a focal area of travel and trade for millennia. These early sites, now in ruins, are yielding information about the biology of these peoples, their life-history experiences, as well as complex aspects of their social lives.
Chris Thornton, Ph.D., Consulting Scholar, Asian Section
Excavations led by Chris Thornton have been ongoing at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Bat since 2012. After five seasons exploring Bronze Age monumental stone structures known as “towers,” the Bat Archaeological Project (B.A.P.) has shifted focus to the domestic houses and agricultural fields of the people who built the towers. The archaeology of central Oman is almost entirely unknown, so the B.A.P. is establishing the first C14-supported stratigraphic chronology supported by the Penn Museum and private donors. The Project will use this chronology to study the changing use of space on the Bat landscape between 3000 and 2000 BCE, as the Bronze Age village expanded into a major town with trade relations from Mesopotamia to India.