University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Athropology

Region: Asia

Extraordinary Discoveries along the Silk Road

From the Director

By: Richard Hodges

Looking back over the last half-century as archaeology has become more scientific, there have been paradoxically few truly great discoveries. The wonders of archaeology, so it seems, were found by Schliemann at Mycenae and Troy, by Carter with his discovery of Tutankhamun, by Bingham when he ventured high into the Andes to Machu Picchu, and […]

Bronze Age Languages of the Tarim Basin

By: J. P. Mallory

The earliest accounts of the Tarim Basin depict a society whose linguistic and ethnic diversity rivals the type of complexity one might otherwise encounter in a modern transportation hub. The desert sands that did so much to preserve the mummies, their clothes, and other grave goods also preserved an enormous collection of documents, written on […]

Textiles from the Silk Road

Intercultural Exchanges among Nomads, Traders, and Agriculturalists

By: Angela Sheng

Silk was one of the most luxurious commodities traded along the many routes of the Silk Road. But one should not assume that only silks were traded, or that silks were the most important of all exchanged goods. Since the late 19th century, archaeologists have unearthed textile fragments made of other fibers such as wool, […]

The Mummies of East Central Asia

By: Victor H. Mair

In 1988, while visiting the Ürümqi Museum in China, I came upon an exhibition which changed the course of my professional life. At the time, my academic career focused on the philological study of manuscripts from caves at Dunhuang, a site where the Silk Road splits, proceeding to the north and south. But after I […]

An Early Ivory Bracelet from Central Thailand

From the Field

By: Thanik Lertcharnrit

A piece of an ancient ivory bracelet was recently discovered during the fourth excavation season at the Late Prehistoric/ Early Historic site of Promtin Tai in the Lopburi region of central Thailand. It is one-of-a-kind and a distinctive Iron Age (500 BC–AD 500) artifact in unusually good condition. The fragment was found in an undisturbed occupational layer […]

Penn Museum in Laos

Penn Museum in Laos

By: Elizabeth Hamilton

The Middle Mekong Archaeological Project (MMAP), a pioneering archaeological project led by Penn Museum staff member Dr. Joyce White, wrapped up its ninth year in Laos in the winter of 2009–2010. MMAP is one of the very few Western archaeological projects operating in Laos, whose prehistory is barely beginning to be known. The Luce Foundation has generously […]


Keeping Visual Field Notes in Vietnam

By: Carol Hendrickson

It was five thirty in the morning on my second day in Vietnam. Propelled by jet lag and an interest in what lay beyond my hotel room, I headed off to the parklands surrounding Hoan Kiem Lake in central Hanoi. I had traveled to Vietnam with a group of faculty and students from Marlboro College […]

Time Periods in Southeastern Rajasthan

By: Teresa P. Raczek and Namita S. Sugandhi

The Mewar Plain has been occupied since the Paleolithic; as a result, sites of various time periods can be found every few kilometers, and sometimes even more closely packed. Here is a description of the main recognized time periods that can be found at Chatrikhera: Mesolithic 5000–3000 BC. Nomadic hunting and gathering groups travelled through […]

W. Norman Brown – Americans Excavating in British India

w. norman brown
Research Notes

By: Gregory L. Possehl

A scholar with many interests, including the archaeology of the Indian subcontinent, University of Pennsylvania Professor W. Norman Brown (1892–1975) was one of the great institution builders for the study of India’s past. On September 6, 1922, R. V. D. Magoffin of the Archaeological Institute of America wrote to Brown to appoint him their representative […]

Borneo Families in this Life and the Next

Adherents of Kaharingan among the Nagaju Dayaks

By: Anne Schiller

After days of hard travel on a weather-beaten boat named Font of Prosperity, I was happy to arrive at the upriver village of Kuala Kurun, deep in the rainforests of Central Kalimantan Province in Indonesian Borneo. I had come to conduct interviews with native peoples about their traditional religion, Kaharingan. Although I was based in […]