Volume 60 / Issue 1


Issue Cover

From the First Cities to our City

On the Cover:

This bearded bull's head adorned the front of a lyre found in PG 789, a royal tomb excavated by Sir Leonard Wolley. Museum Object number: B17694B

Spotlight from this Issue: Powerful Women of Ur

Over a Century of Exploration in the Middle East

Photo of Jane Hickman and Steve Tinney
From the Editor

By: Jane Hickman and Steve Tinney

The Middle East Galleries, opening on April 21, 2018, celebrate the Penn Museum’s long history of excavation and research in Iraq and Iran. This special commemorative issue of Expedition includes essays by curators and staff who were involved in the development of the first of our new signature galleries. We begin with “The Thrill of […]

Telling the Human Story

Siggers looking over an object with two conservation professionals.
From the Director

By: Julian Siggers

Dear Friends, This issue of Expedition celebrates the opening of the Penn Museum’s new Middle East Galleries. These Galleries trace a story that is vital not only to who we are as human beings but also to the Penn Museum’s own history. Over millennia, we as humans have gone through a number of fundamental revolutions. […]

Making the Middle East Galleries

drawing of animation
A Conversation with Julian Siggers, Dan Rahimi, and Steve Tinney

By: Jane Hickman

Julian Siggers, Ph.D., is Williams Director of the Penn Museum; Dan Rahimi is Executive Director of Galleries; Steve Tinney, Ph.D., is Coordinating Curator of the Middle East Galleries. They sat down with Expedition’s Editor Jane Hickman, Ph.D., and Associate Publisher, Alyssa Connell, Ph.D., for the following conversation about the making of the Middle East Galleries. […]

The Thrill of Discovery

Photo of egg
Penn Museum Excavations in Iraq and Iran

By: Richard L. Zettler and William B. Hafford

England and France have done a noble work of exploration in Assyria and Babylonia. It is time for America to do her part. Let us send out an American expedition. John P. Peters, American Oriental Society meeting, New Haven, 1883. Large Scale Excavations In Mesopotamia (Iraq), the lands between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, began […]

Adaptation and Change

Photo of sheep
The Development of Agriculture in the Ancient Middle East

By: Naomi F. Miller

The geography of the Middle East provided both challenges and opportunities for the people who lived there. Most of the Middle East is characterized by a Mediterranean-influenced climate, with cool or cold, wet winters and dry, hot summers. This climate pattern was established by the end of the Ice Age (10,000 BCE). Over the past […]

The Uses of Writing

image of manuscript
Inscribed Objects and Texts in the Middle East Galleries

By: Steve Tinney

Written texts and inscribed objects are an essential part of the stories told in the Middle East Galleries and feature throughout the rooms and cases, offering a broad and holistic picture of the origins, development, and uses of writing. As we thought about the role of writing in the development of civilization in the Middle […]

Mesopotamian City Life

photo of board game
Four Thousand Years Ago

By: William B. Hafford

Modern cities have neighborhoods, shops, factories, religious centers, and cemeteries. They have transportation networks along streets and alleyways, and drainage and sewage systems to carry away waste. Cities also have large and ornate public buildings, typically for city administration and religious observance. All of these elements were paralleled in ancient Mesopotamian cities such as Ur […]

A Spectacular Discovery

photo of news
Burials Simple and Splendid

By: William B. Hafford

Of more than 2,000 total graves, only 16 had the structure, wealth, and evidence of human sacfrice that convinced the director of the excavations, C. Leonard Woolley, that they were royal. These 16 overshadowed all the others, however, solidifying the name “Royal Cemetery” in the minds of scholars and the general public. Newspaper articles hailed […]

Highlands and Lowlands

Photo of object
The Interaction of Communities

By: Holly Pittman

As it is today, southern Mesopotamia (modern Iraq), in the deep past, was a distinctive landscape. It provided, in abundance, the basic materials to sustain human life: water, food, clothing, and shelter. Water came not from rain, which is infrequent, but from the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers which also carried rich soil washed down from […]

Last Day at Hasanlu

Photo of skeletons in hasanlu
An Iron Age City Frozen in Time

By: Katherine Burge and Lauren Ristvet

In the summer of 1958, a young archaeologist by the name of Robert H. Dyson, Jr., led a team from the Penn Museum to the site of Hasanlu in northwest Iran. Stratigraphic soundings dug two years earlier had yielded interesting pottery and the site seemed like a worthwhile place to explore the cultural history of […]