University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Athropology


Volume 48 / Issue 2 (2006)


Issue Cover

Special Issue: Egyptology

On the Cover: Workmen clear the entrance to the hidden subterranean tomb of Senwosret III.
Photo by Josef Wegner.


Holly Pittman: Curator, Near East Section

Meet the Curators

Holly Pittman, curator in the Near East Section and Deputy Director for Academic Programs at Penn Museum, discovered her passion for ancient glyptic art (carved symbols) through an unexpected convergence of travel experiences, job opportunities, and field work. What journey took Pittman from being an undergraduate chemistry major to a specialist in iconography (images and symbols) […]


Finding the Original Home of the Museum’s Brahmā

Research Notes

By: John Henry Rice

As early as 1924 the art historian Ananda K. Coomaraswamy recognized the importance of the Penn Museum’s Brahmā sculpture, now on display at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Dating to central peninsular India’s Later Cālukyan period (10th–12th centuries CE), it is known primarily for the inscription on its base identifying its maker and noting his […]


The Excitement of First Discovery

South Abydos 1899-1903

By: Kei Yamamoto

The current expedition to South Abydos follows in the footsteps of earlier explorers and archaeologists. David Randall-MacIver, Arthur C. Mace, Arthur E. P. B. Weigall, and Charles T. Currelly undertook the first archaeological investigations in the area between 1899 and 1903 on behalf of their project director, the renowned Egyptologist, William Matthew Flinders Petrie. Before […]


The Areryt

By: Josef Wegner

The same clay seal impressions that identified Building A as the mayoral residence also indicated the existence of another structure nearby—the administrative gatehouse (areryt). Ancient texts indicate that areryt facilities were points of control to administer the flow of goods in and out of major institutional buildings like temples, palaces, and, in this case, a […]


The Magical Birth Brick

By: Josef Wegner

In 2001 we discovered a unique object for Egyptian archaeology in the mayoral residence at South Abydos—a polychrome magical birth brick painted with childbirth-related imagery. Egyptologists have long known that it was customary to position special bricks (meskhenet) to support a woman squatting during the delivery of her baby. But while the notion of the […]


The Archaeology of South Abydos

Egypt's Late Middle Kingdom in Microcosm

By: Josef Wegner

Some 3,850 years ago a remarkable experiment in architectural and social engineering took place on the edge of the desert in southern Egypt. The sacred site of Abydos—the burial place of Egypt’s first pharaohs and a religious center for the god Osiris—saw the construction of a royal mortuary complex named Enduring-Are-the-Places-of-Khakaure-True-of-Voice-in-Abydos (in Egyptian: Wah-Sut-Khakaure-maa-kheru-em-Abdju). Dedicated […]


Museum Mosaic – Summer 2006

People, Places, Projects

By: Anonymous

Treasures . . . From The Silk Road To The Santa Fe Trail Following its spectacularly successful premier in 2005, “Treasures…From the Silk Road to the Santa Fe Trail” will once again fill the third-floor galleries of the Penn Museum with the finest arts from traditional cultures, available for purchase—Friday–Sunday, October 27–29, 2006 (Preview: Thursday, […]


Currelly’s Dig House

By: Kei Yamamoto

When Currelly began work at South Abydos in January 1903, Petrie’s main camp was located about 3 km away in North Abydos. Currelly therefore built a small hut for himself in South Abydos at the base of the cliffs above the tomb of Senwosret III. In 2004, we excavated this hut to gain a better […]


A Tale of the Bones

Animal Use in the Temple and Town of Wah-Sut

By: Stine Rossel

Many sources provide evidence of animal use in ancient Egypt. For example, the Egyptians were meticulous in depicting their natural surroundings, including animals, in their art. Reliefs, wall-paintings, and sculptures showed the gods with animals, and many hieroglyphs, taking the form of animals, attest to their veneration. Animal bones recovered from excavations are another rich […]


Egypt’s Well-to-Do

Elite Mansions in the Town of Wah-Sut

By: Nicholas S. Picardo

Archaeologists study settlements and households to understand how ancient people organized themselves and how social relationships played out through daily routine. We are applying this manner of investigation to the southwest sector of Wah-Sut where excavations have exposed a series of elite mansions—residences that collectively formed the town’s business district for high-ranking officials. The pharaoh’s […]