University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Athropology


Author: Janet Monge

Victims of the Quake

By: Janet Monge

An almost complete absence of human remains trapped in the destruction level of the Sanctuary argues that effectively nothing in the way of worship or even repairs was taking place at the precise moment that the earthquake struck. Perhaps it came in the night. But at least two witnesses were on hand to experience its […]


A New View of a Neandertal Fossil Bone Collection

Science & Archaeology

By: Janet Monge and Alan Mann

The Neandertals are among the most enigmatic of our earlier rela­tives. With their large browridges, low foreheads, and projecting faces lacking a chin, but with brains at least as large as ours. they have prompted many different theories to explain both their evolutionary development as well as their possible affinities with living Europeans. Fossil bones […]


Reproducing Our Ancestors

The University Museum's Casting Program

By: Alan Mann and Janet Monge

A hundred and thirty-one years ago, quarry workers in the Neander Valley (“Tal” in German) came across the mineralized remains of a brutish-looking, primitive creature (Fig. I). For several years, there was considerable debate as to the nature of this animal. Initially identified as a bear by the quarry owner, the fossils were later considered […]


Researching the Origins of Swahili Coast Inhabitants

By: Janet Monge

The end of the 10th century marked many changes in the way ar­chaeological and physical anthropological research is conducted. Most importantly, this is reflected in the inclusion of indigenous peoples in the research process, and incorporating their insights, borne of their knowledge of local traditions. In the United States, this change was formalized in the […]


Out of Heaviness, Enlightenment

NAGPRA and the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

By: Robert W. Preucel and Lucy Fowler Williams and Stacey O. Espenlaub and Janet Monge

On September 29,2000, John Johnson of the Chu­gach Alaska Corporation arrived in Philadel­phia to take formal possession of ancestral Eskimo human remains and grave goods from Prince William Sound and Kachemak Bay in the collections of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. This was a profoundly signi­ficant experience for him since he […]


The Morton Collection and NAGPRA

By: Janet Monge

Since 1990 the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) has required all organizations that receive federal funds to notify and work in conjunction with Native American, Hawaiian, and Alaskan groups (within the United States) in order to eventually return (repatriate) skeletal materials (and some artifacts) that derive from these groups’ ancestors (see Expedition […]


ORSA: The Open Research Scan Archive

By: Janet Monge

In 2002 a small grant from the University Research Council of the University of Pennsylvania helped launch ORSA—The Open Research Scan Archive—a collection of high-resolution CT scans of human and non-human cranial (cranium and mandible) and post-cranial (everything bone from the neck down) remains. Now supported by a multi-year National Science Foundation grant (number 0447271) […]


The Samuel George Morton Cranial Collection

Historical Significance and New Research

By: Emily S. Renschler and Janet Monge

Although few visitors to the Museum would know this, the Samuel George Morton cranial collection at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology is one of the most famous collections of human skulls in the entire world. Its presence in Philadelphia is the result of the collecting activities of Samuel George Morton (1799–1851), […]


Surviving: A Lightning Rod

Exhibit Notes

By: Janet Monge and Alan Mann

“The exhibition promises to break new ground as the first of its kind to address aspects of human evolution in the broad context of mammals, and will be thought- provoking and insightful. It offers the framework and materials to address misconceptions. The [Museum] has the collections and intellectual resources to develop the exhibit. Although consciously […]


Technology of Casting

By: Alan Mann and Janet Monge

Making a Mold A mold of most fossil bones is made of two or more parts. When the design of the mold is being planned at the beginning of the molding process, a division or “partline” is made at the place on the bone that will provide the most efficient mold, taking into account the […]


Finding Their Way Home

Photo of Mr. Fanco
Twenty-five Years of NAGPRA at the Penn Museum

By: Lucy Fowler Williams and Stacey O. Espenlaub and Janet Monge

On November 2, 2015, Mr. Lalo Franco and Mr. Pete Alanis of the Tachi Yokut Tribe of the Santa Rosa Rancheria arrived in Philadelphia to receive ancestral human remains that had been part of the collection of the Penn Museum. This was a profoundly significant event for them as they took possession of the remains […]


Mummies Beyond the Grave

An Introduction to Mummy Studies around the World

By: Janet Monge

Over 20 years ago, I got hooked on mummies. It began when we first x-rayed the many South and North American mummies that are part of the Physical Anthropology Section collections at the Penn Museum. This led to a drive to glean even more information from the mummies. For several years, on Sunday mornings at […]