University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Athropology

Region: Africa


Sowing the Seeds of Competitive Play

Photograph of Doug Polumbaum and Risa Korris
The Enduring Legacy of Mancala

By: Kristen Pearson

Mancala has been popular in the United States since a commercialized version was intro- duced in the 1940s under the brand name Kalah. This version of the game is simple to learn and is played on a small, plain wooden board with two rows of six pockets and a set of flat marbles to use […]


Museum News – Winter 2015

Museum Objects Travel the World The Penn Museum has an active loans program, sending objects from the collection to museums and institutions around the world. Currently, the Museum is contributing objects to 32 different exhibitions. Two such exhibitions are Court and Cosmos: The Great Age of the Seljuqs, which will be on display at the […]


The People & Products of Colonization

Africa at the Chicago and Paris Expositions

By: Dwaune Latimer

Arican exhibits at world’s fairs— including both native peoples and the objects of their daily life— provided American and European visitors to fairs with an opportunity to see cultures vastly different from their own. Some ethnographic exhibits supported the idea of the “other,” providing evidence of diverse “exotic” groups that had their own distinct cultures. […]


Around the World

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. Southwest Utah 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. […]


The Children of Maasailand

A Photographer’s Perspective

By: Jennifer Chiappardi

On a recent trip to Kenya, Dr. Kathleen Ryan of the Penn Museum, along with Paul Mitchell, Louise Hansen, and Erika Hoff, excavated pastoral Neolithic sites in the Laikipia Plateau to identify when the enzyme for milk digestion may have developed in the span of human evolution. The expedition included frequent interactions with the Maasai, […]


In the Galleries – Black Bodies in Propaganda: The Art of the War Poster

Propaganda has long been used to mobilize people in times of war. Black Bodies in Propaganda: The Art of the War Poster presents 33 posters, most targeting African and African-American civilians. These carefully designed works of art were aimed at mobilizing people of color in war efforts, even as they faced oppression and injustice in […]


Around the World

Around the World Every year, the Penn Museum’s curators and staff conduct research around the world. Read on for a small sampling of this work from the past year. New York & New Mexico Lucy Fowler Williams, Associate Curator and Sabloff Keeper in The American Section In support of the upcoming exhibition Native American Voices: […]


Big Game at the Museum

By: Alessandro Pezzati

Natural history specimens collected by Arthur Donaldson Smith were on display in 1898 in the University Library, now the Fine Arts Library, which housed the Museum for a decade. At the time, the Museum was still defining its collection. Smith, a physician and big-game hunter from Philadelphia, traveled to Lake Rudolph (now Lake Turkana), eastern […]


Moroccan Pottery in the African Collection

By: Alessandro Pezzati

Talcott Williams, one of the early officers of the Museum, was an editor of the Philadelphia Press for 30 years. He is best known for becoming, in 1912, the first director of the School of Journalism at Columbia University, built and endowed by Joseph Pulitzer. In 1897–1898 he traveled with his wife to Morocco to […]


Imagine Africa with the Penn Museum

From the Director

By: Richard Hodges

Penn museum has been changing, gallery by gallery. The old Museum presented glorious objects in an often dry and uninspiring idiom. Ironically, for a museum which 40 years ago pioneered the importance of provenance for antiquities on the market, the Museum’s own exhibitions often provided limited context for the wonderful materials on display. Like countless […]