Author: Robert H. Dyson, Jr.

An Iranian Drinking Vessel

By: Robert H. Dyson, Jr.

The mountains of western Iran are today the home of sheep-herding tribesmen as they have been since animals were first domesticated. It is not surprising, therefore, that both domestic sheep and their local wild relatives have provided motifs for Iranian art from early prehistoric times. In the pre-metal ages they were painted on pottery; in […]

The Death of a City

People laying brickwork.

By: Robert H. Dyson, Jr.

Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountian, or the wheel broken at the cistern. Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it. Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; […]

An Iranian Gold Piece

By: Robert H. Dyson, Jr.

Herodotus tells us that when the Persian fleet was wrecked off Magnesia in Thessaly in 492 B.C. on its way to punish Athens for aiding the rebellious Ionians, a man who farmed land along that coast gained great wealth by collecting gold and silver drinking cups and other precious objects that washed ashore. The historical […]

A Visit to a Chittagong Hill Tribe

Photo of statue.

By: Robert H. Dyson, Jr.

Much of the initial information gathered on foreign peoples has been derived from the accounts of travelers. Such accounts are usually of an informal nature involving personal experiences seldom included in technical anthropological studies. Yet the very intimacy of such personal contacts, combined with the traveler’s observations on foreign customs, documents in a manner similar […]

Archaeological Scrap

Glimpses of History at Ziwiye

By: Robert H. Dyson, Jr.

Letters are crossing a museum curator’s desk constantly from different and obscure parts of the globe telling of chance discoveries and requesting information as to the age, origin, or meaning of whatever happens to have been found. Usually the writer is an amateur collector who only vaguely describes the object at hand and almost never […]

A Babylonian Lion in Toronto

By: Robert H. Dyson, Jr.

Glazed lions molded in relief on baked brick facades are relatively rare on the North American continent.One of the best of them has just been redisplayed at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto in its current “Art Treasures” show celebrating the museum’s fiftieth anniversary. Noted for many years for its Chinese collection, the museum is […]

A Stranger From the East

By: Robert H. Dyson, Jr.

The blank, staring eyes and elongated chin of this portrait have a dark, haunting quality about them which stays in one’s mind long after looking at them. This haunting quality has been produced through the accident of history, for when it was new the eyesockets and eyebrows were inlaid with shell or ivory. The original […]

Digging in Iran

Photo of men digging
Hasanlu, 1958

By: Robert H. Dyson, Jr.

Expeditions, especially archaeological ones, often produce unexpected results. The last Hasanlu Expedition was no exception. It started slowly with what seemed an interminable delay in the arrival of equipment, and the dull but necessary job of clearing away the accumulated debris of winter. Having previously opened a number of graves belonging to people who had […]

Early Works on the Acropolis at Susa

Drawing of excavators
The Beginning of Prehistory in Iraq and Iran

By: Robert H. Dyson, Jr.

In 1859 Rawlinson wrote in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society: “It would be particularly interesting to excavate the great mound of Susa, for an obelisk which is still lying on the mound, and which bears the long inscription of King Susra, attests the existence of sculptured slabs and there are also good grounds for […]

A Decade in Iran

By: Robert H. Dyson, Jr.

The establishment of a basic chronology consisting of broadly defined cultural phases from the earliest village settlements to the begin­ning of the historic period; the elucidation of each of these periods with some knowledge of technological development, social organization, architecture, funerary customs, and settlement pattern; and the integration of this information into the broader picture […]

Where in the World?

By: Robert H. Dyson, Jr.

Many people interested in The Univer­sity Museum ask from time to time about our research activities. To respond to these requests, Expedition publishes “Uni­versity Museum Research Projects“ (see p. 61). The range of these projects—in subject, space, and time—is great. During 1988, the Museum maintained an active program that included field research in 12 countries, […]


Eleven Thousand Years of Cultural History

By: Robert H. Dyson, Jr.

In October of this year, world attention will be directed toward the achievements of Iran’s ancient civilization through the celebration of the symbolic 2500th anniversary of Cyrus the Great. Cyrus, who ruled over the extensive Achaemenian Empire from 559 to 530 B.C., was renowned for his interest in, and tolerance of, the many non-Iranian cultures […]

Rediscovering Hasanlu

By: Robert H. Dyson, Jr.

The unexpected discovery in 1958 of the now famous “Hasalu Gold Bowl” in a burned occupation level at that site led to extensive excavation of the early Iron Age settlement. This pre­historic cultural period at Hasanlu, located in northwestern Iran, begins in the second half of the 2nd millennium B.C. and ends around 800 B.C. Later […]

The Iron Age Architecture at Hasanlu: An Essay

By: Robert H. Dyson, Jr.

One of the most important results of the excavation of Iron Age Hasanlu is the recovery of well-preserved archi­tectural remains dating to the 9th century B.C., including buildings, gates, courtyards, and roadways. These structures, destroyed by a catastrophic fire, provide a closed context for thousands of artifacts buried in their ruins and afford an opportunity […]

Archival Glimpses of the Ur Expedition in the Years 1920 to 1926

By: Robert H. Dyson, Jr.

All expeditions are a complex network of interlocking political and social events involving people, institutions and govern­ments. Among the common frustrations experi­enced by those working abroad are the delays and difficulties of obtaining permits and of adjusting to foreign field conditions. Beyond these elementary necessities lies the further anxiety of the “division” of objects in […]

Carleton S. Coon

By: Robert H. Dyson, Jr.

Carleton Coon was a large bear of a man with a shock of white hair and a devilish sense of humor. From 1949 to 1964 he was a popular panel member on the Museum’s “What in the World?” program which originated in Philadelphia on WCAU-TV. Carl was noted for his irreverent remarks and direct approach. […]

University Museum Announcements

By: Robert H. Dyson, Jr.

With the return of Martin Biddle to England at the end of June, The University Museum has passed into a period of transition pending the appointment of a new Director. As in most such institutional changes, the challenge is to maintain the forward motion of the organization insofar as possible. With the help of the […]


By: Robert H. Dyson, Jr.

The many volunteers who participate in the wide range of activities of the Univer­sity Museum form an indispensable resource in carrying out the Museum’s dual mission of research and public education. Their tasks have included working in store­rooms, archives, installations, computeriz­ing the inventory, typing, filing, drawing, stringing beads, reorganizing collections, guiding visitors, and visiting schools […]

Introduction – Winter 1986

By: Robert H. Dyson, Jr.

For many people, a museum is a place where interesting “things” can be accumulat­cd. displayed, and stored. In the case of The University. Museum, the range of items collected and cared for is particularly diverse. As a museum of archaeology and anthro­pology, it contains weaving tools from pre-Columbian Peru, bricks and drainpipes made by the […]