University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Athropology

Region: Europe / Mediterranean

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 […]

Ötzi the Iceman

Examining New Evidence from the Famous Copper Age Mummy

By: M. Vidale and L. Bondioli and D.W. Frayer and M. Gallinaro and A. Vanzetti

The Iceman mummy, nicknamed Ötzi, was discovered in 1991 amidst sheets of melting ice on the Tisenjoch pass of the Similaun glacier in the Tyrolean Alps. He was found on the border between Italy and Austria, at an altitude of 3,200 m above sea level. He is a well-preserved male human corpse, dark in color, […]

Preserved in Peat

Photo of part of the body found
Decoding Bog Bodies from Lower Saxony, Germany

By: Sabine Eisenbeiss

Bog bodies—human corpses naturally mummified in the cool, acidic, and low-oxygen environments of peat bogs—have been found in Lower Saxony, Germany, and in other peaty areas of Northern Europe, including the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and Ireland. These bog bodies date from ca. 8000 BCE to the recent past and are noted for […]

The Marvels of Body Worlds

Photo of "The Thinker"
Modern Mummies and the Exhibition of Human Anatomy

By: Page Selinsky

The Body Worlds exhibitions of plastinated human bodies and anatomical specimens by German anatomist Gunther von Hagens are in many ways a distinctly modern phenomenon and yet also closely tied to the past in both the treatment of mummies as showpieces and sources of fascination (see Mitchell article in this issue), and the tradition of […]

Secrets of Ancient Magic

The Power of Spells, Curses, & Omens

By: Kate Murphy & Cynthia Susalla

In ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Greece, and Rome, practitioners of magic exploited symbolic words, images, and rituals to achieve desired outcomes through supernatural means. Using magical acts, they attempted to control supernatural powers— gods, demons, spirits, or ghosts—to accomplish something beyond the scope of human capabilities. The exhibition Magic in the Ancient World, now at the […]

Lisbon: Rich in History and Culture

Photo of tile- monkey riding a horse

By: Janet Simon

Today’s visitors to the Portuguese capital city of Lisbon see striking evidence of a glorious past. At the height of Portugal’s power during the 15th-century Age of Discovery, her explorers sailed all over the world under Prince Henry the Navigator. Portugal’s strategic position at the western end of the Mediterranean resulted in the sea having […]

Architectural Conservation at Gordion

By: Elisa Del Bono

Following the preservation policy of many Mediterranean countries, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism in Turkey requires the directors of archaeological projects to focus not only on excavation but also on archaeological conservation and site improvement for visitors. From 2006 to 2014, this work at Gordion was conducted under the auspices of the Architectural Conservation […]

The Myth of Midas’ Golden Touch

By: Anastasia Amrhein and Patricia Kim and Lucas Stephens and Jane Hickman

Gold has been used to create objects of beauty across the ages, conferring a high level of status on those who own it. In some cultures, gold has spiritual and even magical qualities. As a raw material or manufactured object, gold also plays an important role in understanding ancient trade. Gold luxury objects and coins […]

The Role of Science

in Gordion’s Archaeology

By: Gareth Darbyshire

Gordion is an unusually large and complex archaeological site, the product of its over 4,000-year occupation history. Rising 16 meters (50 feet) above the surrounding plain, it measured about 4 km (2.5 miles) across in the time of Midas. Investigating a site of this magnitude is an enormous challenge, and over the last six decades […]

A Day in the Life

The 2015 Field Season


Any description of life at Gordion must begin with the dig house, the center of archaeological activity now just as it was when it was built in the 1950s. The two-story house sits on a slight rise, looking out over a landscape of tumuli and irrigated fields of wheat, sugar beet, and onions. Like most […]