University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Athropology

Region: Asia


Yupi Dazi

Fish-Skin Tartars of the Amur River Delta

By: William Wierzbowski

The Amur, or “great river,” is one of the longest in the world with its source deep in the interior of Asia. It empties into the Pacific Ocean in southeastern Siberia at the Sea of Okhotsk, which is north of the Japanese island of Hokkaido (home of the Ainu) and Sakhalin Island. A major ethnological […]


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. […]


From Homework to Fieldwork: Summer 2014 Student Projects

Around the World

The Penn Museum encourages and supports student research projects. In 2014, we funded 35 students (23 graduate students, 12 undergraduate students) in their fieldwork in 15 different countries. Five of these students share their summer projects. Molyvoti, Thrace Archaeological Project By Samuel Holzman, Graduate Student in Art And Archaeology of The Mediterranean World (AAMW) During […]


Taming the Beast

The Digital Gordion Mapping Project

By: Gareth Darbyshire and Gabriel H. Pizzorno

Gordion, in central Turkey, is the largest and longest-running of the Penn Museum’s many excavation projects. An ancient site of great historical significance, Gordion was occupied for 5,000 years from the Early Bronze Age (ca. 3000 BCE) through to modern times. Its high point was in the Iron Age (the early first millennium BCE) when […]


Art During Wartime

Recruitment of Black Soldiers from the U.S. Civil War through African Independence Movements

By: Tukufu Zuberi

Military posters are designed to be highly visible in public spaces. They become iconic images for those who remember wars as well as objects for generations of collectors and history enthusiasts. Black Bodies in Propaganda: The Art of the War Poster, a current exhibition at the Penn Museum, examines how images—primarily of African and African-American […]


The Purchase, Theft, and Recovery of the Crystal Ball

By: Alessandro Pezzati

The Chinese crystal sphere, on display in the Harrison Rotunda, has been an iconic object in the Museum since 1927, when it was purchased by Eldridge R. Johnson in memory of Museum Director George Byron Gordon. The 55 pounds of transparent quartz crystal is supposedly from the collections of the infamous Qing dynasty Empress Cixi […]


George Byron Gordon and the Chinese Collection

By: Alessandro Pezzati

George Byron Gordon (1870–1927) was born of Scottish-English ancestry on Prince Edward Island, Canada. After obtaining his Ph.D. at Harvard, he joined the Museum staff in 1903 as Stewart Culin’s replacement. He soon impressed University administrators with his work ethic and vision; in 1910 he was made Director. Gordon oversaw the largest period of growth […]


The Eccentric Maxwell Sommerville

By: Alessandro Pezzati

Maxwell Sommerville (1829–1904) was one of the most colorful characters associated with the early days of the Museum. The first and only Professor of Glyptology (the study of engraved gems) at Penn, he had become wealthy through publishing and pursued collecting in two disparate areas: engraved gems and artifacts of Buddhist worship. When conducting tours […]


Jim Thompson, the Thai Silk King

From the Archive

By: Alessandro Pezzati

Younger generations may not know Jim Thompson (1906-1967?), but in the 1950s and 1960s he was famous throughout the world asa Thailand’s “Silk King,”  and as an arbiter of international taste. Born of a wealthy Delaware family, Thompson graduated from Princeton and attended the University of Pennsylvania School of Architecture. Though he never completed his degree, […]


The Silk Road – Chronology of Selected Travelers

By: Daniel C. Waugh

136–125, 119–115 BCE. Zhang Qian, emissary sent by Han Dynasty Emperor Wu Di to the “Western Regions,” who supplied important commercial and political intelligence. 629–645 CE. Xuanzang (Hsuan-tsang), Chinese Buddhist monk who traveled through Inner Asia to India, studied there, and once back in the Chinese capital Chang’an (Xian) was an important translator of Buddhist […]